If WGMS and Dennis Owens were presenting rock music, I’m sure the article on him (“The Classical,” 1/26) would have been written in a much more critical tone. Because you may not be too familiar with the state of affairs in classical music today, let me fill you in on this important fact: WGMS is a “corporate” classical music station, just as DC-101 and WHFS are “corporate” rock stations.
WGMS presents and repeats an extremely limited playlist. It avoids at all costs most chamber music, vocal music, most 20th-century music, and, of course, all music by living composers. Why? Because “corporate” studies tell them that the demographic doesn’t care for this music. Of course, most public radio and commercial classical stations across the country are following the same playlist and chasing the same demographic.
WGMS and WETA are foisting musical wallpaper and sedatives on the commuter prisoner and the cubical drone. Owens’ comment about the Shostakovich symphony is the standard “corporate” line. If the average office worker did hear, say, the scherzo second movement from the 10th symphony, or Steve Reich’s Different Trains, who knows what such unexpected passion or fear or lyricism or humor or sheer non-focus-grouped humanity might inspire in him? No, better to calm him down with something familiar, routine, a faint blip on the daily radar screen.
Owens said, “The fact that I’m playing classical music is incidental.” Yes, in all corporate radio stations, the music is always incidental.