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Tuning into the differences among classical stations

A cross-country car trip is a great opportunity to contrast various radio stations. And driving to Chicago last week for the Chicago Blues Festival, I got to compare a bunch of classical music stations. Classical music stations are easy to find. They are always near the low end of the dial. Just about when one fades out, you move just a little up or down, and another station is coming in. Some have commercials, some do not.

Buffalo’s own WNED FM, Classical 94.5, rates pretty well in comparison with their peers.

For one thing, it usually plays entire pieces. Getting into the Midwest, I was surprised to find that was a rarity. The stations we picked up in Ohio and Indiana played a movement of this, a movement of that. It was a “shuffle” effect.

They will also hit you with something heavy, like Mozart’s G Minor Symphony, in the middle of the day, when no one has time for it – and then at night, when you can more often give the music your attention, you get that 18th century Muzak (i.e., formulaic symphonies by some forgotten contemporary of Haydn). WNED is sometimes guilty of that too.

Keep in mind I am a fussy listener. I can’t stand to have a Brahms quartet, say, playing in the background with people talking. I can’t tune things out. Which is a long way of saying: What I object to might be fine with other listeners.

I have to say this: All these classical stations have already outlived my expectations. Internet radio, satellite radio and other godsends are giving people so many other options that I am surprised the local stations hang on. Listeners must like that local aspect. Driving across the country, I know I do.

It helps keep things interesting.


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