Monday, March 27, 2023

Boston’s Classical Music Station

One Size Does Not Fit All

Boston Public Radio Live at the Boston Public Library, Friday, June 24

Rob was convinced that standard push the loud stuff down processing that was developed for Top-40 and Contemporary Hit Radio formats simply was not the way to deal with classical music.

Listeners want to hear the original performance dynamics, but simply cannot, due to environmental noise in their cars, offices and homes, and the limited dynamic range of the FM 2 broadcast channel . With the standard approach to processing, listeners were constantly forced to either reach out and turn the volume up and down a lot, or simply not hear the softer passages in the music they love.

He described it as the tinkle-tinkle, WHAMWHAM effect. Whenever a standard broadcast audio processor was used for more than light peak limiting, the 50 dB useful dynamic range of symphony orchestra performances always suffered and listeners complained vociferously. Without heavy processing, quiet passages were lost in the background noise or loud passages were distorted and ear-splitting. The tinkle-tinkle, WHAM WHAM problem had bothered Rob since the mid-80s. In fact, I have photographs of a much younger Rob, jogging along the Charles River outside WCRBs studios, demonstrating the effect.**

Competing With Current Tech

Sometimes competition does not come in the form of another station across the street sometimes it is simply fighting the basics of radio listening and trying to find ways to get people to listen longer.

For two decades, my friend Rob Landry was the engineer at WCRB in Boston, one of the countrys most successful commercial classical stations. His love of the music is legendary, and has a lot to do with the success that Charles River Broadcasting had with FM 102.5. WCRB was a very successful station in the ratings, frequently pulling a 4 share in the Arbitron ratings.

However, back in 1996 the Time Spent Listening was simply not what it should have been when considering the stations cume , and Rob and I discussed it at great length.

Listen To Wcrb On Your Smart Speaker

Amazon – The first time, you’ll need to enable the WCRB skill by saying “Alexa, enable the WCRB skill.” This will allow your device to connect directly to our stream, avoiding third-party services that compress the sound.

After you’ve enabled the WCRB skill, whenever you want to listen, say “Alexa, open WCRB” and then “Alexa, listen live.” You can also listen to our alternate streams after you’ve enabled the skill, by saying “Alexa, open WCRB” and then one of the following:

Alexa, ask WCRB to play Boston early music.Alexa, ask WCRB to play Bach.Alexa, ask WCRB to play Boston Symphony Orchestra.

If your device can’t find the WCRB skill, open the Alexa app, go to the “Skills” section, and search for WCRB.

To listen to our holiday streams on Amazon smart speakers:

Go to or open your Alexa app on your phone and search for WCRB Holiday streams and click enable. Then the following voice commands will work.

Say “Alexa, Open WCRB Holiday Streams.”

Once the skill is enabled, you can say:”Play Perfect Holiday Party,” or”Play Ultimate Holiday Classical Mix,” or”Play Heavenly Holiday Classics.”

It will also prompt you with a menu of the three stream options.

Google Home – Say “Ok Google, play WCRB.” This will play our live stream through TuneIn, a third-party service. At this time there is no way to play WCRB’s streams directly on a Google Home device.

At this time there is no Google Home skill for the holiday streams.

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Updating The Listener Experience At Boston Classical Radio Station Crb

Posted on: May 17, 2022

To get a sense of how much the environment of radio broadcasting has changed in the past half century, one only need ask CRB station manager Anthony Rudel, writes A.Z. Madonna in Sundays Boston Globe. When Rudel took his first radio job at age 19 the on-air announcers were all men each boasting the mellifluous baritone voices that modern listeners associate with vintage broadcasts. CRB in Boston aims for a friendly, lets-listen-together vibe. In February 2014 the median age of CRB listeners was 74 as of this past February, it was 54. The overall attitude at the station is that everyone belongs here, because classical music belongs to everyone, said Edyn-Mae Stevenson, the newest addition to CRBs weekday lineup of DJs. The youngest in their 20s and the oldest in their 80s. Many hosts are engaging with listeners in different ways, and most are active on Twitter In the stations monthly Instant Replay blog posts, digital content manager Kendall Todd compiles a playlist of whatever the hosts have been listening to on their own time. Aprils entry features a Bach organ concerto arranged for brass alongside tracks by Nirvana and Japanese Breakfast.

The Overall Attitude At The Station Is That Everyone Belongs Here Because Classical Music Belongs To Everyone Says Edyn

Boston Public Radio Full Show: 10/23/20

To get a sense of how much the environment of radio broadcasting has changed in the past half century, one only need ask CRB station manager Anthony Rudel, who has been in the industry for most of that time.

When Rudel took his first radio job at age 19 at New York classical station WQXR, he said, the on-air announcers were all men who had mostly made their radio debuts in the late 1930s and early 40s, each boasting the mellifluous baritone voices that modern listeners associate with vintage broadcasts. Youd go in there, and it was like stepping into Brigadoon. It was all smoke! said Rudel, who recalled working alongside a news director who went through two packs of cigarettes a day.

But just like the air quality in the office, the on-air environment has changed in the years since. Instead of the paternal voice of authority that mid-to-late 20th century listeners expected from classical radio, CRB which broadcasts at 99.5 FM in Boston aims for a friendly, lets-listen-together vibe.

Were in a period right now where its not so much let me teach you about this, its let me experience this with you, said Rudel. And that is a sense of discovery that the hosts have along with the audience.

The fact that Im working with Laura Carlo is still mind-blowing to me, because her voice was part of my morning routine from age 8, said Voss, who switched career tracks from opera performance to radio after graduate school.

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History Of Wcrb Intellectual Property

WCRB began broadcasting on 1330 kHz in Waltham on January 30, 1948. In 1950, the station was sold entirely to Theodore Jones, who would own the station under the name of Charles River Broadcasting until his death in 1991. Jones set up the Charles River Broadcast Trust to guarantee that his establishment would continue in perpetuity.

Around the time Jones acquired the station, WBMS, a daytime AM radio station that had played classical music, changed format. Jones decided to change WCRB’s format from that of a typical suburban AM station of the era to full-time classical music. FM service at 102.5 MHz was added by 1954 upon the purchase of the WHAV FM transmitter. FM brought WCRB’s classical music to parts of the Boston area that did not get good reception of WCRB’s directional AM signal, and improved the quality of the sound.

WCRB is noted for many other innovations. It was the first radio station to obtain a permanent waiver of the FCC rules requiring average modulation in excess of eighty-five percent. This was necessary to preserve the dynamic range of the concert music broadcasts. The station also obtained a permanent waiver of the FCC rule that required a station identification announcement every thirty minutes. This meant that a live concert performance no longer had to be interrupted for station identification.

Although Charles River Broadcasting had acquired other radio stations, WCRB remained as the company’s flagship station.

Putting It To The Test

When we put it on-the-air during the day for the first time in the Winter of 1997, we feared the worst calls from golden-eared listeners threatening to stop listening forever if we did not take that devils spawn of a compressor out of the audio chain.

We waited. Nothing happened. No calls. No letters. The only comment we got was from an independent program producer who provided a one-hour weekend show on tape every week and knew exactly how it sounded. He was quite pleased that his program was no longer squashed for broadcast.

And the TSL, as a function of the stations cume, climbed. Over the next several books, the improvement in WCRBs Quarter-Hour maintenance made us all very happy. It teamed 4 perfectly with the programming and musical changes that Mario was instituting at WCRB.

Rob Landry and Grady Moates

Musing in the rear-view mirror, we figured that we had found a great way to minimize the problem of sending classical music through a limited-dynamic-range broadcast channel and into a restricted-signal-to-noise listening environment.

We kept that old Texar on-the-air until around 2004, when the Inovonics Omega II came out. I called up their developer and described what we were doing, and he emulated it perfectly in an option menu in the Omega version III software, so we switched to the Omega and never looked back. Today, that Texar Audio Prism is back in my basement, and the Inovonics is on-the-air at WUMB-FM.

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Classical Radio Stations From Massachusetts United States

How To Properly Treat Classical Music

Boston Public Radio Live From The Library With The Metropolitan Chorale

WCRB was, at the time, a very creative, experimental place to be. WCRBs Vice-President of Programming, Mario Mazza, was aggressively researching what made the Classical audience tick and had no qualms about changing programming paradigms to improve service. It was a perfect time to do a little Classical audio processing experimentation of our own.

So, I got to thinking: Rather than just establishing a loudness ceiling and processing just the top 15 dB of dynamic range, maybe what Classical music needed was a gentle platforming-up of the middle part of the dynamic range to take the audio levels from about -10 dB down to about -30 dB and gently compact it.

Then, by combining that with conservative top-down processing, it seemed to me that half of the useful dynamic range of classical music could be brought up to normal listening levels without destroying the short-term dynamic effects that make classical music so rewarding a listening experience.

At the time, I had just the box to do it sitting in my basement an aggressive Rock-Radio processor called the Texar Audio Prism. Retired from its Hot Stereo Rock days at Z-104 in the DC suburbs, it was crying for something fun to do!

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History Of The 995 Fm Broadcast License

The 99.5 FM broadcast license began broadcasting October 6, 1948, as WLLH-FM, the FM counterpart to WLLH, programming a full-service format to the Merrimack Valley.

During the 1970s, 99.5 became WSSH , which programmed a format of chiefly soft instrumental renditions of pop tunes with a few vocalists an hour, consisting of soft AC and standards cuts. In 1982, WSSH evolved to a soft AC format gradually eliminating the instrumental renditions and became home to popular nighttime radio personality Delilah Rene before she became nationally syndicated. Ratings were very high through the 1980s and WSSH often led other AC stations. By then, the station was separated from WLLH, but later gained a sister station on 1510 ” rel=”nofollow”> WMEX). WSSH had high ratings and was often the top-rated adult contemporary radio station in the market throughout the 1980s.

However, in the early 1990s, ratings went from excellent to mediocre part of the reason was the perception that WSSH was still an elevator music station. By 1991, the station modified its format to mainstream AC by adding current product and some up-tempo AC tunes. WSSH became the third place radio station, following WMJX and WVBF . On December 13, 1995, the owner of WSSH, Granum Communications, changed the format to smooth jazz, under the branding of WOAZ , mirroring Granum’s KOAI in Dallas.

Wcrb And The Classical Music Wars: How A Top

Radio would probably not have been as exciting in the 60s and 70s without all the modern advances in audio processing that seemed to follow one after another. And some of the best ideas came from the folks in the field who got creative with the best they had on hand.

Glen Clarks reminiscence about the birth of the Texar Audio Prism struck close to home for me. I, too, spent years back in the 70s messing around with audio processing and, when the Audio Prism came out, it became my multi-band weapon of choice for over a decade.

That box had real staying power, for sure.

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