Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Format fallout

The balloon's gone up. Bonneville flipped WGMS from classical to "George," one of those single syllable we're-crazy-we'll-play-anything (as long as it tests well) DJ-less formats. In response, WETA has returned to classical format. For the best in-depth analysis, I recommend DCRTV.

In this post, I'd like to keep the focus on the collateral damage. First off, the remaining WGMS staffers lost their jobs with the switch – a not so fitting a reward for decades of professional service and building tight bonds with listeners. But that's the biz.

At WETA, the ax fell as well, taking out Mary Cliff, host of "Traditions." This Saturday evening folk music program has been running for almost 30 years, and has become a mainstay for artists and listeners. It was a solid part of WETA's programming, peacefully coexisting alongside the classical music run on the weekdays. It also survived into the news/talk switch. Yet for WETA's triumphal return to classical, "Traditions" was terminated with extreme prejudice.

Dan Snyder wanted a sports/talk radio to help plug the Redskins. The deal fell through, and Snyder moved on. In the wake of the collapsed deal;

1) The most successful commercial classical station in the country is dead.

2) Dozens of people at two different radio stations are out of work.

3) Two locally produced programs at WETA – one dating back almost to the start of the station – are dead.

Was this trip really necessary?

- Ralph

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