WNYC-FM Is Latest Public Radio Station To Slash Music

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WNYC-FM, one of New York City's top non-commercial radio stations, is canceling most music programming in favor of news and talk. Disturbingly, other public radio stations are making similar moves or shifting music programming to less listened to time slots and secondary HD channels.

It's a trend that has independent musicians and labels, many of whom rely on non-commercial radio to reach new audiences, worried,  Particularly affected are music and labels in the Americana, AAA, jazz and classical genres.

From The Public Radio-owned New York radio station WNYC-FM told its employees that the long-running music discovery show “New Sounds” would be ending its nearly four-decade run at the radio station. According to the New York Times, the station told it’s staff in an email that it plans to close the New Sounds, along with the lion’s share of its other music programming out by the end of 2019 and refocus on talk and news radio.

“This is a continuation of the momentum that began when we replaced daytime music on WNYC-FM with news/talk format programs in 2002,” station management said in the email obtained by the Times.

New Sounds, which is hosted by John Schaefer, bills itself as a genre-crossing presentation of “weird and wonderful music from artists, composers and traditional musicians.” As the Times noted, New Sounds has broadcast everything from Philip Glass’s 1984 opera “Akhnaten,” to the early days of the Bang on a Can Collective, as well as live performances from artists such as Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

In an email to the Times, a spokesperson for the station said the decision to pull New Sounds and its other musical fare was not entirely driven by ratings. “The WNYC audience is overwhelmingly a news/talk audience, and we are consolidating music to Saturday nights to better serve that listenership,” the spokesperson told the Times.

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