Retuning the Dial: Rethinking the Relationship between Radio and New American Music

John Schaefer‘s “New Sounds,” located at WNYC’s Web site, serves as a different kind of resource for those interested in contemporary music. “New Sounds” is broadcast seven nights a week from 11 to 12 PM on the grandfather of new-music-hospitable stations. While you can’t listen live, the show is diligently archived, so you can easily download last night’s broadcast, as well as any other program dating back to July 26, 1999. A separate archive page features ten broadcasts, some of which date back even as far as 1997.

With seven more hours of music archived each week, “New Sounds” online is fast becoming a “library with attitude.” According to a recent interview with David Rubin in Chamber Music Magazine, Schaefer is “seeking to attract the disaffected rock listener.” This attitude is reflected in programs with themes such as “world music with Western dance grooves.” Occasionally he puts a toe across the border into earlier music, as with the show devoted to “music by and for historic women.” Proponents of more “hard core” twentieth-century classical music have no cause for worry, however: Schaefer didn’t forget George Crumb on his seventieth birthday, and programs devoted to “mostly electronics” and to “music under one hundred seconds” included their share of challenging works.

The availability of “New Sounds” online is evidence that the Web is already allowing the new-music community to free itself from the pressures of the mass market. “New Sounds” used to be syndicated, but when the NEA stopped funding in 1996, listeners outside the New York area lost the privilege of hearing the program. In January 1999, however, the station began streaming some programs over the Web, which likely allows a larger audience to access the broadcasts than syndication ever did.

From Retuning the Dial: Rethinking the Relationship between Radio and New American Music
by Jennifer Undercofler
© 2000 NewMusicBox

Page 16 of 17« First1314151617