The Boston public radio war I

From the Boston Globe – 12/18/2009

A new WCRB, and a shrinking classical dial

In a city passionate about classical music, a lot of listeners get their fill by catching the Boston Symphony Orchestra and other programming on the radio…

WGBH purchased WCRB this fall, and there is now significantly less classical music on the airwaves than before the sale. It’s also audible in a smaller listening range. So ironically, one group that has lost big in this saving of a classical music station is the classical listening audience itself.

Let’s be clear: it could have been much worse. WGBH’s $14 million purchase of WCRB was surely the best of the various realistic outcomes for the all-classical-music, all-the-time WCRB, whose parent company had put it up for sale. For Boston to lose its only 24-hour classical music station would have been a major blow to a region that prides itself on the richness of its musical offerings.


WCRB radio

Photo by luchilu from Flickr Creative Commons

From the Boston Globe – 12/18/2009

Gentlemen, start your pledge drives: WGBH ramps up its news programming to compete with WBUR

After a quarter century of snoozing, the slumbering giant of Boston public radio — WGBH 89.7 — is finally waking up. In its morning lineup, the World’s Greatest Broadcast House is throwing NPR dowager Diane Rehm (“My favorite talk show host’’ — Hillary Clinton) up against WBUR 90.9’s yappy Tom Ashbrook. At noon, ’GBH has its franchise TV queen, Emily Rooney, facing off against ’BUR’s honey-voiced Robin Young.

Earlier this month, ’GBH tried to steal a march on market leader ’BUR by rejiggering its weekend schedule. ’BUR rejiggered right back. “I’m not going to let a newcomer into the market and air our critical programming earlier than we do,’’ says a feisty Paul LaCamera, ’BUR’s general manager who formerly ran WCVB-5 television station. “I came out of a competitive commercial broadcasting environment. When someone acts, we respond.’’

It’s an old-fashioned radio war; I like it!


From the Boston Globe – 12/29/2009

WGBH adds 2 shows to radio lineup

WGBH unveiled the centerpiece of its new full-time news radio station: two talk shows hosted by well-known Boston TV personalities.

“The Emily Rooney Show’’ – Rooney also hosts WGBH’s “Greater Boston’’— will start at noon on Jan. 11 on 89.7 FM. The one-hour show will focus on local news and public affairs and feature a segment called “What are YOU hearing?’’ with commentary from local experts and analysts. It will be followed by “The Callie Crossley Show,’’ which will center on current events and regional arts and culture.

“Emily’s is a today show, responding to what is happening in the moment on any given day,’’ Crossley said. “My show is a these-days show. I might respond in the moment, but I may broaden it out to examine other issues.’’

The new shows are part of WGBH’s efforts to reinvent 89.7 FM as Boston’s newest full-time news and information radio station after WGBH bought classical music station WCRB-FM 99.5 for $14 million in September.


From the Boston Globe – 12/31/2009

WGBH stepped up to preserve classical radio

BOSTON IS indeed a city passionate about classical music, as critic Jeremy Eichler notes (“A new WCRB, and a shrinking classical dial,’’ Living/Arts, Dec. 18). As we begin our stewardship of 99.5 All Classical, we embrace and respect the views of listeners as we launch our initial plans. But we can all agree on one thing: If WGBH had not stepped up to purchase WCRB, Boston would have only seven hours a day of classical music on the radio, instead of the 24 hours a day we have preserved. And those new 24 hours will include all of the unique concert programs of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, including Tanglewood and the Boston Pops, as well as a host of live performances of local and visiting artists from the WGBH studios. As audiences listen to us, we’ll listen to them as we strive to deliver what Eichler suggests, an exciting 21st century classical public radio service.

’GBH takeover of ’CRB alters more than letters

From the Boston Globe

Classical station has new business model: support of donors

Boston is following a trend in radio that’s taking place in other cities across the nation: Its only 24-hour classical music station now depends on listeners — not advertisers — to keep it afloat. …

Boston is following a trend in radio that’s taking place in other cities across the nation: Its only 24-hour classical music station now depends on listeners – not advertisers – to keep it afloat.


From Flaming Pianos to “Video Wallpaper”

Nam June Paik, a leading figure in the artistic avant-garde for more than four decades, whose pioneering use of electronic imagery earned him the unofficial title “the George Washington of video art,” died Sunday [1/29/06] at his Miami apartment. He was 74.

“He basically invented video art,” said George Fifield, curator of new media at the DeCordova Museum, in a telephone interview yesterday. “He did installation. He did abstract video. He just did everything. He was amazing.”

Bob Baram Departs at 86

From the Boston Globe (excerpts) — 4/20/2005

Robert Baram was a journalistic jack-of-all-trades who wrote of life in the South during the early days of the civil rights movement, penned a syndicated column in Bay state politics in the 1950s and ’60s, and offered political commentary on WGBH-TV for many years.

“He was a giant,” said James Thistle, director of broadcast journalism at Boston University and former news director of at Boston channels 4, 5 and 7.

Mr. Baram, 86, who also wrote five volumes of poetry, taught at Boston University School of Journalism, and advised a generation of journalists as director of the New England Scholastic Press Association, died Sunday at Delray Medical Center in Delray Beach. Fla.

“He always did his homework, and he never took a cheap shot in his life,” Thistle said.

Mr. Baram was born in Newark, NJ. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Boston University.

In 1956, at the invitation of the governor of Mississippi, Mr. Baram and 18 other representatives of the New England Weekly Press Association toured the state to report on the racial climate. Mr. Baram wrote a series of dispatches on the trip for the Boston Globe that were published under the headline “Yankee Editor Looks at Mississippi.”

“He had a magnificent, stentorian radio-television voice,” said Boston University professor Caryl Rivers. “He really had a kind of stature, more BBC than ‘GBH, but he was also extremely genial and fun to be around.

In the 1960s and 70s he delivered a series of commentaries called “New England Views” on a nightly news show hosted by Louis Lyons on WGBH. When Lyons took a day off, Mr. Baram was the show’s host.

In a story on WGBH coverage of local elections published in the Globe in 1966, Mr. Baram was described as “a walking encyclopedia of the political situation, particularly out in the sticks.”

In 1969 Mr. Baram moderated a televised debate for Boston City Council candidates. In 1978 he was moderator of the televised gubernatorial debate between Governor Michael Dukakis and challengers Edward J. King and Barbara Ackerman.

He taught at Boston University for 40 years until his retirement about 10 years ago. “When you really wanted to learn how to create a piece, you went to Bob,” Thistle said. “It didn’t matter whether it took 15 minutes or an hour, he took his time.

A tall man with a shock of gray-white hair and a distinguished mustache, Mr. Baram had impeccable cable style, giving lie to the stereotype of the shabbily dressed journalist. “He really dressed beautifully,” Rivers said.

For more than 30 years Mr. Baram was executive director of the New England Scholastic Press Association, a free service sponsored by Boston University to provide information and counsel to high school newspaper advisers and students.

Mr. Baram often invited students to his office to show them the journalistic ropes. Sometimes he fielded phone calls from home late at night, such as when a high school student became nervous about something that was about to be published. “He wanted to give back to the profession, and he gave back in spades,” Thistle said.

Mr. Baram leaves two daughters, Deena Ferrara and Ava Sarafan, both of Acton; and four grandchildren. Services have been held. Burial was in Belt Olam Cemetery in Wayland.