The Public Radio Classical Challenge rolls on! (Please check the link in the previous sentence to get all the disclaimers surrounding this informal survey). We stay in North Carolina and examine a day's worth of classical programming from Public Radio East (serving Eastern Carolina). Like many stations, WTEB has a news/classical music format. It airs classical music overnight using WFMT's service. It has three locally-produced classical music blocks throughout the weekday; mid-mornings, afternoons, and late evenings.
Public Radio East broadcasts in an area that has a large seasonal population (beach-goers), and so I'm not surprised that their programming leans towards the conservative side of what's shaping up to be (as our survey continues) to be a very safe approach to programming.
Based on our one-day survey, the most representative WTEB track would be an orchestral composition from the late romantic/post-romantic period (1870-1910). Something by a dead, male, European composer, of course. That fits in with the 101 Strings-type sound many stations seem to be aiming for (especially during the dayparts). And for the most part, the repertoire's consistent with the offerings of the North Caroline Symphony.
But there were some subtle differences. WTEB aired a very percentage of chamber music. This is good, as it exposes the listener to some of the works they're likely to hear in more intimate settings, such as the local Manning Chamber Music Series and the North Carolina Chamber Music Festival.
What about vocal music? Still no danger of hearing any opera arias or lieder broadcast over the airwaves (at least on the day we checked). But WTEB did play some choral music, which means members of the various choral societies in the listening area can actually hear works they might perform.
Still, some things remained the same. Jennifer Higdon may have won the Pulitzer Prize for music, but it's not likely you'll hear her on WTEB. Why?
1) She's a female composer (0% aired)
2) She's still alive (0% aired)
3) She's writing music in the 21st Century (0% aired)
Three strikes. She's out.
Here's the breakdown for the day's playlist:
Types of Ensemble
68% Orchestra (includes soloist with orchestra)
18% Chamber group
7% Solo instrumental performer (mostly piano)
7% Choral ensemble
0% Solo vocalist
21% 20th Century (mostly works before 1940)
0% Early music