WETA 90.9 FM changed to a classical music format at 8 p.m. on Monday, January 22 and is now the exclusive provider of classical music on the Greater Washington area radio airwaves through a cooperative agreement with Bonneville International Corporation, owner of WGMS.
“Classical music, in all its power and beauty, is an essential part of the cultural life of this city,” said Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA. “As the exclusive home for classical music on local radio, Classical WETA 90.9 FM will celebrate classical music through our on-air programming and community involvement. I am pleased to work with our colleagues at Bonneville to ensure a home for classical music in the nation’s capital.”
“We’re thrilled to partner with WETA to keep classical music alive in the Washington area and create a new music station that will energize many music fans,” added Bruce Reese, president and CEO of Bonneville.
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With more than 35 years of experience broadcasting classical music, WETA is uniquely positioned to expand this rich tradition of service to the community. Classical WETA 90.9 FM launches with a long-term professional on-air classical music staff, exclusive WETA recordings of orchestral performances, long-standing ties to area cultural institutions, and a powerful broadcast signal reaching throughout the region. Bonneville is donating the WGMS classical music library of 15,000 CDs, augmenting WETAâ€™s extensive collection.
Classical WETA 90.9 FM has an all-classical music format. The station continues to be the exclusive broadcast home in this market for the Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcasts Saturday afternoons. The local WETA arts and entertainment preview program Out & About with 90.9 airs as short features throughout the schedule, highlighting cultural news and events in the region. Newscasts on the hour from National Public Radio are complemented by the weeknight, 7 p.m. broadcast of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, which is produced at WETA’s studio in Arlington. (Schedule information is available on www.weta.org.)
Bonneville is also transferring use of the WGMS call letters for WETA to use on its 89.1 FM Hagerstown simulcast frequency, pending an application in process with the FCC. Once the transfer is approved, the WETA call signal will be “Classical WETA 90.9 FM Washington and WGMS 89.1 FM Hagerstown.”
Dan DeVany, WETA vice president for radio, also announced that Jim Allison, program director at WGMS for the last 14 years, will join WETA as radio program director on January 29. “With his dedication to classical music and expertise in radio programming, Jim will be a strong addition to our team. We are fortunate to have in-place excellent on-air hosts with great expertise in classical music programming. Together, we look forward to presenting classical music on Classical WETA 90.9 FM all day, every day.”
WETA changed to the classical format with the strong approval of the WETA Board of Trustees, which met December 14 to consider the changing marketplace for radio in the region. Rockefeller noted that the decision required choosing between two strong options. “We are exceedingly proud of our current format and the staff who have implemented it. However, given the dramatic changes in the D.C. radio market, we had to consider how we should best meet the needs of our community.”
Classical WETA 90.9 FM and WETA TV 26 are member-supported public broadcasting stations serving Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia with educational, cultural and public affairs programming and related services. Classical WETA broadcasts programming 24 hours each day on WETA 90.9 FM in Arlington, Virginia and WETH 89.1 FM in Hagerstown, Maryland. WETA HD broadcasts 24 hours each day on HD 90.9. Additional information is available on www.weta.org.