Classical Discoveries – First 15 years on the air
May 28, 2012 2 Comments
When I nervously walked for the first time to the WPRB studio at about fifteen minutes to six on Thursday morning, May 29, 1997 I had no idea that I would be celebrating 15 years on the air.
It was only days after a trip to Poland and finding out that I would be losing my position as Classical CD Buyer at the Princeton University Store. The new management did not see any value in promoting classical music and got better returns in selling t-shirts.
After all, who needed culture in a University town? A few “3 Tenors” CD’s strategically placed between trashy books was enough to make a better profits with the average tourists visiting town. It did not count that my small, eclectic department attracted buyers (attending workshops and University conferences) from all over the world and that these buyers roamed around the store spending money on other stuff.
When I walked into the WPRB studio I did not know that this would be the only good thing keeping me going for the next 2 years.
I am very proud of Princetonians. The news of the closing CD department caused a public outcry that caused the temporary reversal of the initial decision, but I paid dearly for it. I resigned from my position after 2 years, when I could not endure any more harassment (privately and in front of all other management staff) and psychological bullying, something I will never forget. I should have walked out when the original decision was made because after that whatever I would do was insufficient or wrong for management.
This is when in the mist of all things Classical Discoveries, an idea of the advertising guru for Princeton University Store, was born. Since WPRB’s advertising rates were (and still are) the best around and they were looking for summer Classical DJ’s, my position in both places could help. Unfortunately again, management was not interested in promoting CD sales while helping a local station at the same time.
I remember like yesterday my first day when after 15 minutes of training (yes, 15 minutes before WPRB went on the air) by a DJ named Tyler, I had been left on my own and remember that my voice was shaking. Boy, was I nervous! I even forgot to stop the CD player and announced the next work while the first CD was still playing.
It took several months for my program to become what it is now and you can read about that in one of my first blogs ”More about me”
Like everything in life, I have had good times and bad times, but I will never regret the moment when I realized that during my first trying months on the air, I could make a difference for music and composers that are not household names. Over the years many of them, as well as some listeners have become my friends.
To this day, planning my radio show is one of the most fun things I do every week, and it is still amazing to think that this all started during one of the most difficult times of my life. It has never been a chore to get up at 4:00am, or to stay awake for 24 hours during one of my marathons.
During the last 15 years I have had many mishaps and disasters. Some of these were funny and some were embarrassing. These keep live radio exciting since you never know what may happen next. I was turned into an icicle when locked out at 5:15am outside of Bloomberg Hall for 50 minutes with a wind-chill factor of 0 during a Christmas break. I was also locked out, outside of the studio for 45 minutes during a Fund Drive. Luckily the music kept playing and the phones kept ringing during this time! I barely made it to the hospital for hernia surgery, being saved by Jon Solomon, after the next DJ following me could not make to the station, with a FCC agent breathing down my neck.
I lived through the station moving from the dungeons of Holder Hall to the new place in Bloomberg Hall in 2004. I was delighted when we moved because I stopped getting parking tickets! I also lived through the time when we became member supported several years ago. During my 15 years, there have been at least 12 classical directors and 14 station managers as well as countless numbers of student and community DJ’s, some of whom I remember and some I do not.
I remember December 15, 2005, when after 2 hours waiting for my turn, I lost my voice during my acceptance speech at the ASCAP Award ceremony in NY. Imagine, getting a radio award and losing my voice in front of an auditorium full of people. Thinking about this now, really makes me laugh!
In 2001 with help of a friend, I created my website, with the picture of my first piano CD as a logo. The website and logo went through a face-lift in 2009. In 2007, following the example of the Christmas Marathon Giant Jon Solomon, I presented my 1st 21st Century Music Marathon. In the summer of 2008, the new program “Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde” was born (program designed to accommodate works that very often fall between the cracks and are difficult to classify as well as many electronic selections and more avant-garde works ignored by most radio stations).
Thanks to the help of friend and composer, Steve Layton and my wife, you can listen to archived programs for over 2 weeks after their first broadcast just by going to special page on my website, or if you prefer you can record and download the programs through Dar.fm – Digital Recorder. These new features began just a few months ago.
Some weeks ago, I finally located a box of memorabilia that contained 3 notebooks of old playlists from 1997 till March 2001. I forgot so many things and going through each page brought back many memories.
The most important thing is that without a station like WPRB - a station that supports individuality, my program could not exist. I know, that no classical manager on a regular commercial or NPR station would allow me to program 100% the music of my choice. Thank you WPRB for my last 15 years on the air.
When you read this blog, please remember that thou all DJ’s at WPRB are volunteers, the station needs your support to survive and pay its expenses.
I would like to thank to all listeners that supported me through all those years. Your phones and letters were and are very important to me.
I cannot end this memory trip without giving a credit to my wonderful wife, Beata. Without her endless support and hours of hard work on my website this program would never be what it is. I also want to thank her for her endless patience with me in learning correct Polish and other Slavic language pronunciation. I am always asked if I speak fluent Polish. No, I don’t speak Polish at all. The only thing I can say in Polish is not very suitable to write, a sentence I used to say while walking our dog.
Yes, It has been an exciting 15 years and all I can say is that I hope that in 15 years from now I will be celebrating 30 years on the air.
I hope, that you will be able to join me and celebrate my 15th anniversary this Wednesday, May 29 at 5:30am till 1:00pm. The combined Classical Discoveries and the Avant-Garde Edition will include listener requests and many works, which were officially presented as première broadcasts during the last 15 years.
As always, you can find more find more at: http://www.classicaldiscoveries.org – home page for the program where new music lives for 15 years and where many discoveries begin.