Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The dumbing down of a classical channel

A kind of uproar among lovers of classical music in the Netherlands has broken out. The reason is the rescheduling of the programmes of the classical channel of public radio, Radio 4. One aspect in particular has caused the anger of serious music listeners. The early morning show, with various classical music and news from the music scene, presented by someone who within the last years has developed into the most celebrated presenter of classical music, has been cancelled.

Instead we get a show with lighter classical pieces and political news, presented by someone who has made a career as a host of sports programmes. The debate in the forum of Radio 4 went out of hand, at least in the eyes of the editorial staff. Comments by listeners were considered inappropriate and insulting, and they pulled the plug.
This, of course, only stirred up the anger, as the staff was accused of arrogance and being unwilling to accept criticism.

The reasoning behind the rescheduling is the attempt to increase the audience, and in particular to attract young people. The early morning show was considered too difficult and the presenter too 'elitist'. As a columnist in a newspaper put it: his only fault is that he can pronunciate the word 'counterpoint'.

The manager of the channel believes that people will be attracted to Radio 4 when they get the daily news in alternation with more 'easy-listening' classical music. No serious music lover believes this is going to happen. What causes most anger is the impression that the people who are in charge don't take classical music really seriously. Why, it is asked, should everything be simple and easy, and why should everything be adjusted to what young people are supposed to like?

The opponents consider the rescheduling as just another stage in the dumbing down of the classical channel. It is, as some say, dumb enough as it is.
O tempora, o mores, as the Romans said.

1 comment:

  1. Apart from live-recorded concerts, I have already a long time ago lost all interest in whatever they do on Radio 4, I don't care for this insipid juke-boxing. Given the way things go, it is (sadly) to be expected that programming will be more 'middle of the road'.