Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Musical Signature of WCRB-WGBH Conversion

Monday morning I flipped through the radio stations and heard the unmistakable sounds of Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio in a. It was my first indication that 24-hour classical music station WCRB is really being bought by WGBH to continue as a 24-hour classical station -- but with WGBH's broader mix of music, not WCRB's mostly light classical (all Vivaldi and Mozart, all the time).

The Boston Globe reported this morning that the Federal Communications Commission approved the $14 million purchase of the station last week -- although the WGBH format is not supposed to change until December 1 and WCRB announcers have yet to move to the Brighton studios.

WCRB's annoying stamp, er, "branding," on their station was still in evidence Monday: the piano trio's conclusion was immediately followed by a chirpy-voiced, "Casual, comfortable classical."

No. This piano trio is neither casual nor comfortable. It is dark, tragic, dramatic, and pathos-ridden -- written in memory of the great 19th century Russian pianist and composer Anton Rubinstein who had died in the preceding year.

I'll be delighted when WCRB transitions to WGBH musical fare like this piano trio but drops the idiotic branding verbiage.

Tchaikovsky Piano Trio in a, Op.50, 1st movement, played by Sviatoslav Richter (piano), Oleg Kagan (violin), and Natalya Gutman ('cello).


notloB said...

Read more background information from my blog post of last Saturday -

Folk and blues fans may wish to participate in these two Facebook groups:

Cause ~

Discussion group ~

Jeff Boudreau
notloB Folk Concerts

JonT said...

WCRB will undoubtedly be better after the switch, but I mourn for the loss of WGBH as "Boston's NPR arts and culture station". I don't think we need a WBUR clone.

Leland said...


Thanks for video clip. I take your point about WCRB having been playing to the lowest common demoninator, and I'm not a fan of commercial radio in general.

One positive aspect of having had two classical radio stations in Boston (yes, I know, 89.7 was only classical part of the time) is that if I didn't like what 89.7 was playing, I could jump to 99.5 and hear something perhaps more appealing, and vice versa.

As of Dec. 1, I will only have one choice if I'm listening to an actual radio (if I'm at a computer, then this is a non-issue, since the world is my oyster).

Having said all that, if the choice is between (1) being limited to only one option for 24-hour classical music on the radio dial and (2) losing 99.5 forever to Britney Spears, then number 1 is obviously far preferable.

- Leland