Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Strini's Obit for WFMR; Is Radio "Engaging"?

The Journal's music critic, somebody named Strini, weighs in on the death of WFMR's format.

Of course, "weighs in" implies that Strini has weighty comments.

Don't be misled.

They're not.

I wonder how many among that 4,900 listened attentively. I can't imagine a significant number of them settling in for an evening of intense engagement with Mahler via radio. The only place I regularly heard WFMR Classical was at the barbershop I've patronized for 16 years. Did the shearers and the sheared ponder the fine points of sonata form, as the sounds of Stamitz and Mendelssohn mingled with the buzz and snip of trimming? I think not. The music was aural wallpaper in that setting, and I suspect that was WFMR's main role for most listeners.

Interesting that on the one hand, WFMR's offerings are "aural wallpaper" and on the other hand, Rush Limbaugh (and Sykes, Belling, etc.) are "running the country" from the radio. (Although Strini does not make that claim...at least not in print.)

Hmmmmm?

More to the point: very few people leave an MSO concert conversing about the 'fine points of sonata form' they encountered in Uihlein Hall. An encounter with Beauty may lead to analysis, but in most cases, it leads to awe.

But there are those who actually do fully engage the music while listening--both on WFMR and at Uihlein. And there are those who claim that listening to Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms will make baby's brain grow faster, and mathematics learning easier.

"Wallpaper" doesn't make THAT claim.

6 comments:

tadhg seamus said...

Ok; let's engage the argument at its lowest possible level and grant Strini's cynical "wallpaper" claim for a moment, shall we? Even at that, the quality of the wallpaper was elegant, well-chosen, and appropriate to the room. Some people paint their walls black, paint pentagrams on them in fluorescent colors, and light the whole thing with black light. Aesthetic principles apply, even to wall covering. Strini should know better. Take the beauty wherever you can find it; God's there.

Dad29 said...

Strini certainly does NOT paint his walls black w/pentagrams.

diana said...

It is too bad...we often listened to it in the car. For my part I just don't often listen to the radio. I liked WOKY about 15 years ago but hated the constant commercials.

While listening I would often write down the piece of music played so I could buy it. I will miss hearing new music (new to me anyway).

My kids really enjoyed the Baby Einstein DVDs, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven...They could identify the music on WFMR. It takes an ear though.

David L Alexander said...

Classical radio in a commercial format is a recipe for disaster. Try listening to Chopin's Nocturnes and then be jarred by an ad for a car dealer. The columnist linked in this post is right, for the most part. But if there is to be a future for fine arts programming on conventional radio, it's going to have to be at the lower end of the dial; in other words, public radio. And even there, it's running neck-and-neck with news/talk formats.

Oy vey.

Anonymous said...

Strini has been a pretty outstanding classical music critic for MJS for the past 20+ years. He knows his three B's (and much, much more)...Milwaukee has been lucky to have him.

Dad29 said...

No doubt, Anony.

No doubt at all.