WGCU dropping classical programming after competing radio station enters market

Rick Johnson, General manager, WGCU Public Media

Rick Johnson, General manager, WGCU Public Media

— WGCU Public Media will drop its classical music programming altogether, just two months after Fort Lauderdale-based WNPS-FM entered the Southwest Florida market.

WGCU general manager Rick Johnson said Friday the station will switch its HD-2 signal to a mix of emerging and heritage contemporary musicians known as XPoNential Radio. Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 16, WGCU HD radio 90.1-2 and 91.7-2 will begin airing a 24-hour-a-day blend of blues, rock, world, folk and alternative country music.

The HD-1 signal will continue to echo its FM broadcast of news, interviews and specialty music shows.

WGCU already moved its classical music programming from FM to its HD-2 radio signal in 2008. The limited broadcast power of its HD signal, however, had left classical music fans in Naples and Marco Island no alternative but to stream it online from the station's website.

Early this spring, Classical South Florida, a Fort Lauderdale public radio organization with 24-hour classical music programming, announced plans for a presence here under the station name WNPS-FM. It began broadcasting from Estero in June at 88.7-FM.

"This summer WNPS began broadcasting the same classical music programming as heard on our HD radio channel. As public broadcasting, we want to provide listeners with variety and we do not want to duplicate services," Johnson said in the news release announcing the switch. "We are confident XPoNential Radio will soon become a favorite for many Southwest Florida music lovers."

XPoNential Radio is produced by WXPN in Philadelphia. WXPN also produces "The World Cafe," heard on WGCU-FM from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays.

Johnson said the genre, known as adult album alternative, "opens the door of public radio to a new group of listeners from college students to young professionals to children of the 1960s and '70s who will appreciate this eclectic blend of music."

XPoNential Radio is produced by WXPN in Philadelphia. WXPN also produces "The World Cafe," heard on WGCU-FM from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays.

XPoNential's playlist varies daily. A recent playlist included music by Adele, Damien Rice, Jimmy Cliff and Paul McCartney and bands such as Blind Boys of Alabama, Nirvana, The Avett Brothers and The Police.

Listeners also will be able to stream the XPoNential Radio programming with the WGCU Radio App or online at wgcu.org/listen live.

Amy Tardif, WGCU Radio station manager and news director, said the station hopes to offer local artists the opportunity to showcase their music on XPoNential: "We anticipate working with the arts community to sponsor local concerts and music events. We are excited to bring this new music stream to Southwest Florida and we look forward to continuing the relationship we began with local artists and music lovers on 'Gulf Coast Live Arts Edition' with XPoNential Radio."

In the meantime, Classical South Florida has announced its own plans to have a studio in Southwest Florida. The station has received 500 pledges in the first two months it has been on the air, said Jason Hughes, interim general manager: "We're just thrilled with the response here."

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Comments » 1

RayPray writes:

This is great news!

"A recent playlist included music by Adele, Damien Rice, Jimmy Cliff and Paul McCartney and bands such as Blind Boys of Alabama, Nirvana, The Avett Brothers and The Police"

Where else on the dial can you find such acts?

Here's a thought....

Why not drop all the music entirely -- except for the remunerative Pachelbel Canon -- then switch the station to round-the-clock pledge drive, 7 days a week?

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