‘No Better Place’ for Midge Woolsey, Ending WQXR Career After Two Decades

Avid listeners to Classical station WQXR don’t need a formal introduction to Midge Woolsey. She started as a weekend host under The New York Times ownership. Later, she moved to weeknights, and since 2009 Woolsey has been on the middays.

That is all about to end.

After 20 years, Woolsey is singing a Brahms lullaby, as she holds fort on her final broadcast Thursday.

“Anyone would consider it an honor to be a part of what’s gone on, and what is going on at WQXR,” Woolsey tells FishbowlNY. “I can’t think of a better place to be doing the job that I’ve been doing. There is no better place.”

For the veteran broadcaster, she’ll miss everything attached to ‘QXR.

“It’s the whole package. It’s the connection that we make everyday with the listeners,” Woolsey says.

Those loyal fans have been writing well wishes to Woolsey on their Web site. Perhaps from the strong bond that classical music aficionadoes have with their station, many comments were equally passionate about the longtime host.

I am saddened by this news.  You have always struck me [as] an individual who truly loves the classical world, and as an individual who presents it in an informed and interesting way.

The only classical station in all of NYC and it is losing the most valuable member of its family.

I am so so sorry to hear you are leaving.

“They really count on WQXR to keep them connected to something that’s very important in their lives,” Woolsey says. “It’s something that is sort of a lifelong engagement that keep feeding souls.”

She says there is the utmost respect for the station’s audience.

“The listenership of WQXR is passed from family member to family member to family member over the course of 75 years,” Woolsey says.

She had a special connection with her followers during a noontime request show. In addition, Wednesday’s interactive Showdown allowed people to vote for a musical selection based on an event or theme.

For those who think Beethoven is just a dog, they probably would not know the makings of a typical classical music format. But this isn’t your father’s genre, or at least Woolsey tried to inject some of her personality into the show.

“There is a protocol that’s sort of historically,” Woolsey says. “It takes a brave soul to break those boundaries.”

Sharing a memory from her past 20 years, Woolsey thought briefly. Her faded Oklahoma twang announced the touchstone night from more than 11 years ago, hours after the 9/11 strikes.

“It was such a unique moment in time,” Woolsey recalls. “And all of us felt so helpless. We all just pressed forward, and that’s when we really started to realize how meaningful the music can be.”

Also known to PBS viewers for her long standing role on the WNET/Channel 13 pledge drives, Woosley says the future of WQXR is indebted to New York Public Radio, which acquired the station in 2009.

“For me to realize that New York Public Radio was the entity that stepped in and kept WQXR alive, it meant everything to me,” Woolsey admits.

Woolsey’s retirement from WQXR is to focus on her home life.  She says there is “nothing concrete” professionally.

“My biggest priority is just taking some important time for my family,” Woolsey says. “That’s the first thing on my list, and then we’ll see what comes up.”


Photo credit: MarcoAntonio.com