City Paper is not for tourists
Your article on Dennis Owens (“The Classical,” 1/26) was timely for me, because I’d been wondering what the body containing the voice that I reluctantly wake up to each workday looks like. I say “reluctantly” because I am one of those “former WETA listeners, who were forced to start getting their dose of classical music from Owens” when WETA went to a news format in the morning (as if this city needed another outlet for more words dissecting everything under the sun).
Extra words is one reason I don’t enjoy WGMS in the morning as much as the former WETA. Classical music, like other beautiful things, is its own reason for being. Also, the body of classical music, as one of the greatest human achievements, doesn’t need to have a lot of unrelated words around it so as to make the listener say, “Gee, that was fun.” Owens front-loads his program with so much verbiage that it’s a relief to actually hear the music, such as it is. (I was interested to discover that someone other than Owens is to blame for the actual programming; the morning choices as well as most of the rest of WGMS’s programming makes me refer to it as “Classics Lite.” How many times do you want to hear a Polovtsian dance or mandolin concerto?)
Owens’ constant patter is a minor irritant in comparison with the commercials that take up so much time in the morning. Following Owens’ loftysome might say pompoustones come a string of some of the crassest hawkings of everything from cell phones to cars to lube jobs. Over and over again, you’re told about JoAnne’s Bed & Back, making just one stop at Joe Hadeed’s, that Safeway is selling pot roast at $1.49 a pound, and that driving to Richmond can save you a bundle on furniture.
This all points to the real issue here, which is that, since WETA joined the ranks of talk shows, the Washington area does not have a good classical music station. It is outrageous and pathetic that a city the size and caliber of Washington doesn’t provide classical music listeners with programs as good as those broadcast by stations in smaller cities throughout the country.