Reaction: Parker to Lead WQXR

Monday, June 21, 2010

105.9 WQXR-FM, the New York-based classical music public radio station, and sister station to WNYC,  has announced its new leader. And the classical music community is talking about it.

Graham Parker, currently the executive director of the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, will become the Vice President of the station, which is owned and operated by New York Public Radio.

"I can't recall anything in recent history where the radio side of the business has drawn from the executive pool of the orchestra administration side," says Drew McManus, who runs Adaptistration, a blog about the business of classical music. "It will be interesting to see what qualities and revenue streams will and won't carry over."

McManus says that orchestra managers, due to the non-commercial nature of classical music, are by necessity able fundraisers, and that Parker's long-established relationships with donors could be an asset for the station. He also suspects that Parker's experience working with orchestras could help navigate other issues, such as live-broadcast agreements. In his role at Orpheus, Parker has worked WQXR and NPR on a series of live broadcasts from Carnegie Hall.

"He's been at Orpheus for long time, which is good thing to see in an executive. Too often they jump around the career ladder," says McManus. "At the same time – it's not a bad thing for a group to get a new leader, just to get some fresh ideas."

Parker has led Orpheus for over seven years. Previously, he headed the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra.

"Graham has brought Orpheus some great energy," says Jeremy Denk, the author of classical music blog Think Denk and himself a pianist who has performed with Orpheus.

“It’s a really difficult job to administer an ensemble and maybe especially Orpheus," says Denk. The ensemble differs from most in that it is does not have a conductor. The players themselves have a say in the programming and the management of the group. "It involves building relationships with tons of musicians. Hopefully he'll bring that perspective to the station," says Denk.

In the fall of 2009, WQXR changed hands from the New York Times Company to New York Public Radio, switching from a commercial station to a public radio station in the process. The changeover ignited controversy among longtime WQXR listeners, who feared that the type of programming, characterized by a focus on the classical canon, would change under the new owners.

Others feel differently.

"WNYC has always had a wonderful history of presenting new music," says Frank Oteri, composer advocate of the American Music Center and the Founding Editor of web magazine New Music Box. "I wish the same was true of WQXR.”

Oteri says that concern for contemporary classic music is vital a successful classical music format.

Currently, WQXR hosts Q2, a web-only music stream that highlights new music.

Despite losing listeners in New York City suburbs now out of range, the overall listenership of the station has steadily increased. WQXR is now the nation's most-listened-to public radio station.


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Comments [15]

helga busemann from nyc

Re: Holberg Suite

Whenever I hear you play the Holberg Suite it appears to be by the same orchestra. I would really like to hear the piano version. When performed by Einar Steen Nokleberg, for example, it is electrifying!!!

Feb. 08 2011 02:48 PM
Allan Needle

Midge Woolsey is charming and clearly well suited to the job. Though Jeff remains a solid asset to QXR, her lovely female voice provides a refreshing change to the daypart scene: . She might do better if she resisted making remarks like "It says here.." or "According to the jacket notes..." when quoting from text. She always makes it clear when expressing her own opinions, so it seems unnecessary to identify the remarks of others--after all, what all of us know is inevitably a compilation of what we have learned from others-- Midge, you're just being too nice--nobody would ever accuse you of plaigarism. Happy New Year to you and all of our friends at WQXR from Allan Needle

(on behalf of WQXR's sometime corporate underwriter "The Mendelssohn Glee Club": America's oldest independent men's chorale)

Jan. 03 2011 02:19 PM
Alan Polinsky

Though I have followed and enjoyed the music played by Orpheus for years, I am a bit concerned over the choice of Mr. Parker as your new vice president. For several years I financially supported the Brooklyn Philharmonic orchestra, but stopped it when Michael Christie was appointed, because of the choice of music he was playing. I think the decisions that were made by the administration of the Brooklyn Philharmonic have largely contributed to the current (non) state of affairs of the Brooklyn Phil. In the blurb about Mr. Parker, it was mentioned that he previously headed that orchestra. Perhaps it was before the tenure of Michael Christie.


Jul. 07 2010 12:04 PM
Richard Attanasio

Martha Low - it's not your radio. There's an awful, noisy station in Hartford on 105.9 that interferes much too much. It's made it impossible to enjoy WQXR in my car. They need to set up a repeater station for northern Westchester; it would probably pay for itself in contributions. No way I'm going to contribute to a station I can't hear in my car. WBGO from Newark comes in fine, as does WKCR.

Re: announcers. I sure wish you would have kept Clael d'Alferez (sp.?) instead of Annie Bergen. I'm sure Annie is a fine person but she's just too sweet for words. A bit less warmth from her would be much cooler.

And please can you get Helga Davis to calm down?

Jeff Spurgeon and Elliot Forrest are fine.

Jul. 06 2010 05:25 PM
GCL from Astoria NY

I do as well. I was one of the listeners who was appalled by the past change, and did something about it. I complained to both the FCC, they had no idea of what to do. To an elected official who did do something, but not enough. And to the people behind NPR to keep the station as is, which means increasing the way the programming becomes diverse.

It turns out that others thought so, the chaps behind the Greenespace for one thing, and a certain pianist.

It worked. The intial concert was well done, so have all the others. I have had the pleasure of seeing Orpheus in concert, and am completely amazed at their talents.

Jul. 04 2010 07:37 PM
Faye Levey from New York City

Putting New Jersey Reports on at 6am Sundays is a truly terrible idea. It might be an interesting show at another time. But I can't be the only WQXR listener who keeps the radio on all night and prefers to be be woken up by gentle classical music. Maybe a mid-afternoon slot for this show-- and maybe on WNYC?

Jul. 04 2010 07:49 AM
Joseph Costa from Nyack

How about a listing of programs including the titles of a few selections each day on your excellent web page? Or something on a weekly basis?

Jul. 03 2010 02:19 PM
Mildred R. from East Brunswick, NJ

I'd like to know how the programming works. Who chooses the pieces? The hosts or the background staff or both? There are frequent repeats, and some favorites seem never to be played: I've heard the Trout Quintet once since Oct. How about Berlioz' Requiem? With Choral Fixation to be only an hour, how can you ever play it? Same with the German Requiem? Please bring back David Dubal.

Jul. 02 2010 03:26 PM
karen from Highland Park, NJ

ok. this could be good, but hopefully QXR won't continue airing the (mostly) "usual" often mundane works that you've sometimes been noted for in the past. We like to hear new and unusual works as well as our beloved classics. And I hope the announcers/DJs will have a say in the programming of their time on air. Otherwise I fear it's going to be the same old same old. We'll be listening to you... so thankyou for listening to us!

Jul. 01 2010 11:00 AM
d still listening from queens

what about folk music of the world and woody's children. ok pre-turn of the century but there must be something.

Jul. 01 2010 09:23 AM

I hope Mr. Parker will bring some of the wide-ranging repertory that characterizes Orpheus to WQXR.

Jun. 30 2010 06:45 PM
Runa Schlaffer from Chestnut Ridge

I love your station, but why can't we have "Exploring Music" in the daytime or early evening? Not all of us are night-owls.

Jun. 29 2010 07:48 AM
martha low from Westchester

Thank you for bringing Midge Woolsey back. She is a delight and, most important, she never mispronounces a foreign name. Naomi Lewin often stumbles over the names of conductors and composers. I find this irritating coming from WQXR.
Also, I find that many of her selections are too long and quite boring.
I am happy that you brought George Jellinek's programs back. I was hoping for just that.
I wonder why I frequently have the interference of other stations while listening to 105.9 FM. This never happened during 96.3. Does it have to do with my radios or your signal?
I would just love to hear from you.
Very sincerely yours
Martha Low

Jun. 26 2010 09:34 PM
Len Goldenson from New York City

Let's hope he gets rid of the mumbling on-air hosts.

Jun. 23 2010 12:28 PM
Sidney Goldman from Baldwin, NY

I strongly applaud the appointment of Graham Parker as vice-president of WQXR.


Jun. 23 2010 10:53 AM

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