Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Heard On The Radio

     On my morning commute, I usually listen to WICR, an FM station owned and (student) operated by the University of Indianapolis that picked up the classical and jazz programming once carried on WIAN-FM when that station became an NPR affiliate.*  The station plays classical music weekday mornings from what is now Classical Music Indy and used to be the Fine Arts Society of Indianapolis, and the light, pleasant fare of  Performance Today is my normal soundtrack.  Yesterday, they were playing "Night On Bald Mountain," perhaps best known from its use in Disney's Fantasia, and I tuned in near the end, when the music has turned lovely and lyrical--

(Here's a link.  I'd embed it, but YouTube has removed or hidden the feature that let me shrink the window to fit my blog's column-width.)

     "H'mm," I pondered, "Is that Mussorgsky or Rimsky-Korsakov?"  I couldn't remember and decided to check later.  Both, as it happens! Mussorgsky worked on the original for years and never got to hear it performed before an audience.  Rimsky-Korsakov published his own arrangement five years after Mussorgsky's death and that's the version we know.
* Indianapolis is underserved for non-commercial radio compared to many cities of similar size. The history of it is tangled, but here's what I have puzzled out:  Butler University's WAJC, once the city's primary NPR station, had a commercial license and was sold in 1993 to operate as one; the Fine Arts Society had put an FM station (WAIV) on the air in 1961 but by the late 60s, decided to get out of the uncertainties of ownership and sold their station, which became WTLC, something of a legend for soul music programming.  About the same time, the Indianapolis Public Schools expanded WIAN to make it a full-power non-commercial station. WIAN and the Fine Arts Society worked out an arrangement to provide classical programming when that station wasn't presenting educational material.  WIAN also carried jazz and big band shows, and things went along that way until Butler sold their station and full NPR affiliation became available. (I'm a little hazy on  the history of local carriage of National Public Radio, as I'm only a casual listener.) IPS's WIAN was acquired by PBS TV station WFYI and became WFYI-FM, a fine example of an NPR station and these days, the programing provider to many of the smaller university stations throughout central Indiana -- and the Fine Arts Society's programming (and jazz) moved to the U of I station way down at the low end of the FM dial, which had moved their transmitter in with channel 6 TV to cure a mutual interference problem and incidentally upgraded their coverage a great deal.  "HD Radio" has given WICR additional program services on the same FM carrier and these days, the main FM has classical mornings, jazz in the afternoons and U of I sports and various public affairs-type shows (including a unique call-in history program presented by the indefatigable Nelson Price), while their HD2 operates as "The Mirror," playing jazz when the main plays classical and vice-versa...and HD3 is a contemporary music station.  Not bad for what started out as a ten-Watt FM that covered their campus and not much else! 


Old NFO said...

Some of those 'little' stations are still around, and doing well! Sadly, many I grew up listening to are long faded into obscurity!

Roberta X said...

This is true. Many years ago, the FCC started to lean on them to either get bigger (3000W or more, usually) or give up -- harsh, but the ones that hung on generally did better afterward.