Sunday, January 27, 2013

Another avenue closes

Marvin Rosen, host of "Classical Discoveries" on WPRB Princeton, announced a few days ago has announced January 23 that the avant-garde edition of his program has been canceled. The last broadcast is scheduled for this Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

I spoke with Marvin by phone Friday evening, and he said that a student DJ wanted the time slot, and since 'PRB is a student-run station, students take precedence over adults and other outsiders in programing decisions.

"Basically, that was the reason I was given. Students get first crack," he told me. "I don’t know if you know this, but I need to apply for my show three times a year." Marvin will continue to host the regular edition of "Classical Discoveries" Wednesdays from 5:30 to 11 a.m., but he said he has no intention of combining formats or inserting and any token avant-garde or electronic pieces into his show. He tried it once before and received nothing but complaints, he said. For better or worse, "Classical Discoveries" and "Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde" are two different programs with two different audiences.

The avant-garde program was canceled once before, he said, and eventually came back. It might come back a second time, but for the moment, I am disappointed and sad, and I am sure other fans of modernist music are, too. Marvin is the only radio personality I can name who regularly programed modernist music, and while he is a wonderful man and the most engaging personality at the station, I must confess I find much of the music he plays on "Classical Discoveries" somewhat dreary. I like my modern music to sound modern. I don't care for pastiche, and I'd rather listen to Debussy than to some kid who is trying a little too hard to sound like Debussy because he can't think of anything else to write.

Of course, I appeared on the avant-garde edition of the show last July when Marvin and I discussed and played the music of Elliott Carter. It doesn't look as I'll be on the air with him again anytime soon. Not that I thought I would be, and I certanly don't need WPRB to hear Carter or any of my other favorite composers, but Marvin introduced me and his other listeners to the music of many younger composers whose names we would never have known without him. How many more will we never hear of now?

One source of encouragement — Marvin has received many expressions of support on his Facebook page.

“It’s gone crazy,” he said. “People are reacting. They think it stinks.” It does indeed, but Marvin remains loyal to the station that has given him so much airtime. .

“I can do what I want,” he said. “This is priceless. No one [else] would let me do a 24-hours music marathon.”.

Another source of encouragement: Marvin promises the show will go out with a bang.


WPRB Management said...

While it was announced the past week that Classical Discoveries Goes Avant Garde (CDGAG) has been canceled, WPRB management wants to assure our listeners that we have not chosen to “cancel” any particular show. As our DJs and long-time listeners know, WPRB is a free-format station. This means that there are no restrictions on what DJs broadcast during their hours on air. Changes in programming are routine, and with each new season, we incorporate as many DJs as possible into the weekly schedule. While the hours of Classical Discoveries have been condensed for the spring schedule, Marvin still has free reign over the content of his five hour show. Considering the interest CDGAG has generated, we encourage listeners who want Marvin to devote a portion of his spring programming to the avant garde to contact him and make this request.

Best Regards,
WPRB Management

Jennifer said...

Hi Joe, I thought that I had posted a comment when this post first went up but I most have typed the code in incorrectly.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you that you did a great job . When it comes to radio programming Marvin Rosen is in a category of his own and it is sad that the show will be lost this spring. Even though Marvin does have total control over what he can air, playing experimental music in the morning is not always a good idea. I should know. I can remember sitting in a morning class back in college and our professor played for us Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima for us at 10am. It was not easy to listen to at that our since I was still waking up. I believe that this is true for radio since during Marvin's regular hours, people are driving to work, or just getting ready to leave for work. During these hours, experimental music is well, harder to listen to and not quite as enjoyable. That's just my 2 cents.

Joe Barron said...

Oh, I don't know, Jen. I've always found Carter's Third String Quartet to be the perfect pick-me-up first thing in the morning. It has the combined effect of a hot cup of coffee and a cold splash of water in the face.

Jennifer said...

Oh my God, Joe, you gotta be kidding me man! LOL!

Joe Barron said...

Yes, and when I have company and want to set the mood, it's a toss-up between Sinatra and Le Marteau Sans Maitre ...

Kurt Tazelaar said...

Marvin plays both "accessible"and "difficult" music, one of the beauties of the show is that he flat out loves music and finds value in different sensibilities.

Joe Barron said...

True enough, Kurt, but Marvin is suiggesting that we'll be hearing less of the "difficult" variety from now on.