WFMT to offer annual Immersion Day as a live online stream for $20

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Classical WFMT in Chicago is conducting an experiment with its third annual in-studio Immersion Day on Feb. 11, said Steve Robinson, e.v.p. for radio and project development. The popular event, where fans pay $150 to attend a daylong seminar on a specific aspect of classical music, mingle and share lunch, this time also will be streamed live. Henry Fogel, former president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a leading expert on opera singers, will discuss how those vocal performances have changed over the past 100 years.

Participants attending the seminar will receive full access to the stream, which will be archived online for a year, Robinson told Current. Fans elsewhere pay $20 to listen in that day, and also get archival access.

“This is an experiment in niche streaming,” said Robinson, who got the idea when he heard about YouTube investing $100 million in targeted original content. The YouTube work, he said, “is being done on a macro scale — it signifies that streaming as we know it, what it can do and mean, is being reshaped.”

On a local level, Robinson said, “this could be of significance for other public radio or public TV stations, any kind of small organization that feels it has content of value. If you pardon the pun, it could be a second revenue stream.”

So far 50 participants have signed up for this weekend’s event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday Central time. “Our goal is 150 for this one,” Robinson said. “We hope for the next one we’ll have 500, and the next — 10,000.”

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