WNYC unveils its plans for classical WQXR

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There’s one week to go before New York’s classical WQXR relaunches under the ownership of WNYC, and programmers are putting the finishing touches on the talent roster and playlist.

Current WQXR hosts Jeff Spurgeon, Midge Woolsey and Elliott Forrest have been retained for weekday and weekend airshifts. WNYC also hired Naomi Lewin, a host, producer and arts feature reporter for Cincinnati’s WGUC, to anchor afternoon drive-time on the new WQXR.

Terence McKnight and David Garland, hosts of the eclectic and adventurous Evening Music broadcasts on WNYC-FM, will take over WQXR evening slots and program a more narrow range of music than what they’ve presented on WNYC. “There are philosophical differences in how we treat music programming as having a strong personality behind it,” said Chris Bannon, p.d. The WNYC audience tunes in for hosts’ voices and commentaries on the music they’re playing, he said, whereas WQXR’s listeners have an expectation that they can tune in at any time to “hear music that you know you’re going to like. It’s a music station, and, to the best of our ability we are going to make it a really good music station.”

For music lovers seeking a wider-ranging playlist, McKnight will host Q2 on Saturday afternoons, a flagship show for the music stream to replace WNYC2, the “progressive classical” service now offered online and as an HD Radio channel. Q2 is “a rebranding of WNYC2 that acknowledges it’s music from the canon and beyond and it’s all housed at WQXR,” said Laura Walker, WNYC president.

The new schedule for WNYC-FM, still being finalized, will feature more news and information programming, with a cultural bent of music-oriented shows after 10 pm; WNYC-AM is being reprogrammed in the evenings for “hard core news listeners,” Bannon said.

As a public radio station, WQXR is selling four minutes of underwriting spots per hour, a third less than airing now as a commercial outlet, according to this morning’s New York Times, which also reports details on the new WQXR playlist. News breaks will originate from WNYC’s newsroom, rather than Bloomberg.

Business plans for WQXR project $4 million in revenues from underwriting, membership and grant support in its first year of operation as a public radio service, Walker said. “We’ll see how that pans out.” The first campaign for member support will be a one-day drive in December; a full-fledged pledge drive is scheduled for February. The $14 million capital campaign that WNYC launched to finance the purchase has raised $7.58 million, Walker said.

The new WQXR, which moves to 105.9 FM under WNYC’s ownership, launches on Oct. 8 during a live performance at Carnegie Hall featuring the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. The concert will be transmitted as a live webstream on www.wqxr.org and simulcast on WNYC-FM.