WCNY Scaling Back on Jazz Programming

December 12, 2008 by

SYRACUSE - Classic FM (WCNY-FM/WUNY/WJNY) is making some programming changes that may leave jazz fans unhappy, as it moves to increase the emphasis on classical music.  Hosts Leo Rayhill and Dick Carr are directly impacted by the changes.

Rayhill's "Sounds of Jazz," which currently airs weekdays from 6-7pm, will be busted down to just one hour on Sundays, as of January 4, 2009.  Carr's show, "Big Bands, Ballads and Blues," which currently airs on Saturdays, will be dropped altogether.

Speaking to the Fayetteville Eagle Bulletin, program director Peter McElvein says the changes will allow WCNY to air classical music 24 hours a day, Monday through Saturday.  Any non-classical programming will be grouped together on Sundays.  Additionally, McElvein concedes in the interview, "WAER is Syracuse's jazz station."

Syracuse JazzFest director Frank Malfitano called the changes "unconscionable," part of an "alarming trend" of jazz being scaled back at public radio stations nationwide.

Rayhill tells the paper he's volunteered both his time and his own personal records to put "Sounds of Jazz" on the air.  Carr says his show was airing under contract with WCNY.

You may recall Carr's show originated at WAER, eventually going national in 2003.  Syndicated by Buckley Broadcasting's WOR Radio Network, it was no surprise when the show moved later that year to Buckley's WFBL (where the show had been produced).  At one point, the show was carried by at least 60 stations, including WOR in New York City.  

Could "Big Bands, Ballads and Blues" come full circle with a return to WAER?  General Manager Joe Lee tells he can't comment at this time "because we don't know the circumstances behind the decision."  As of right now, he says "WAER has not been contacted by the producers of those programs, so there are no plans to carry them."

UPDATE - New information from WCNY including a press release detailing additional programming lineup changes: More Changes at WCNY-FM


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