Monday, February 18, 2013

The Vast AM and FM Wasteland

In this area, there used to be two FM stations that broadcast classical music:  the local “W-BACH," which serenaded me to sleep each night, and the NPR station, whose outlets were scattered around the State and which intermixed classical music with jazz and news and word games.  Now classical music is gone, gone, gone. You can find country music and Latino music and hard and soft rock.  You can find, on the AM and FM dials, political talk and sports talk and call-in talk, which is whatever idiotic subject Joe Sixpack wants to vent about. But you cannot find Beethoven or Mahler or Mozart. For that matter, you cannot even find Jerome Kern or Richard Rodgers or George Gershwin.

It is just as bad on the road, for the high-fidelity radio in my car carries nothing but low-fidelity content.   So I depend on CDs for good music.  At night, an iHome and an iPod stocked with show tunes and classical music soothes me to sleep.  So all is well, except for one thing:  If the roughly 40 commercial radio stations within range deliver nothing but inane chatter and rock, who needs them? Fewer and fewer of us, I’ll bet, as more and more of us listen to CDs and iPods.  The radio is useful for news and weather and sports, but you need only two or three stations for that, not 40.  As for music, it’s all the same, a waste of precious bandwidth.

Right now, as I am typing this, I am listening to Jean-Yves Thibaudet playing Gershwin’s Concerto in F with the New York Philharmonic.  The concert was broadcast New Year’s Eve, and I recorded it on DVD.  It’s gorgeous music, and there are no commercials. If W-BACH were still in business, I’d probably have it playing. But it’s gone. The same fate awaits most of the stations on the AM and FM bands.