Sunday, December 11, 2005


Programming a show - 101 - Part 1

Anyone reading this blog at 5AM definitely gets an answer to their question... !! A reader/listener asked how programming the show is put together. My show is one of 4 in the United States that programs over 80% opera, art song and vocal music. (if there are more, I would love to know about them).
First, an explanation of the station is in order, which will comprise Part 1 of this entry.
WHFR is a "college alternative" station - its station charter and FCC liscence require that the station ONLY plays music that cannot be heard elsewhere in that market. So the programming is a lot like the weather in Michigan - just wait a few minutes, and it will change.[sic]

Most shows at WHFR are 2 hours - mine is 3 hours long 1 day a week, and as most opera listeners know...that is not enough time to play a complete opera. No one at the station is allowed to have a show over 3 hours - the concept is to provide as many "students" as possible the opportunity to experience radio broadcasting.

I say "students", because some of the hosts are well into their 30's/40's, but there are quite a few who are 19, 20 and still students full-time at the college. To become a host, you are required to take a class in radio technology, which mostly covers FCC rules and how to run the equipment. Then you "graduate" and if your show meets certain guidelines, you get to host a show. There are roughly 40 hosts at the station right now. I am also the Classical Music Director.

Some of this may be tongue-in-cheek, but what it means is roughly every 2 hours, the format changes. Because it part of the station charter, I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THIS. I have to emphasize this because every week I get complaints when the opera ends and indie rock begins. There is a lot of indie rock, free-form jazz, local blues, video game music, hip-hop/rap,soundtracks, psychobilly, techno and yes...opera/classical.

Please also keep in mind that everyone at this station (with the exceptions of the Station Manager, General Manager, and Operations Manager) is a volunteer. We are our own board ops, we do all the prep work, and as long as we stay within the charter, we have a modicum of freedom with programming...

and so this ends Part 1...

2 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

How do you get permission to play specific recordings over the air? Are you required to obtain "clearance" (for lack of a better term) from the publishers or copyright holders, since nearly every opera CD I own has some disclaimer version of "for personal, non-broadcast use only" affixed to its liner notes. I have a fairly sizeable collection of operas on CD (around 200 unique titles), including a number of rarities as wildly diverse as Giuseppe Apolloni's "L'ebreo" from 1855 and Ernest Bloch's "Macbeth" from 1910. I might be persuaded to loan them to you for broadcast purposes.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Ariadne said...

You have my utmost sympathy, in that "only 2 (or 3) hours and the format changes constantly" bit. That's exactly what I had to deal with on my classical/opera radio show at Middlebury back in the stone ages... er, uh, the early '80's. We're talking vinyl records, here. I got remarkably adept at fading in and out, editing out recitatives and trying to keep everyone in the loop as to what the story line was doing.

Best wishes on this, truly. It's not easy and I, for one, appreciate your hard & good work!

Happy holidays! (and ps I'm tagging you as well for the Meme of Four that everyone's doing. See my blog for details.)

10:19 PM  

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