Press Room

WQXR: new dial position, new cultural focus

On Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 8:00 PM, New York City’s classical music station WQXR will celebrate the move to its new dial position at 105.9 FM with a live broadcast from Carnegie Hall. Through the acquisition of WQXR from The New York Times, new owner WNYC is preserving classical music on New York City’s airwaves as a listener-supported public radio station, bringing more classical music and fewer interruptions to listeners than ever before, as well as thoughtfully curated music programming rooted in New York City’s cultural life.

The “new” WQXR will sound largely familiar to longtime WQXR listeners, with a commitment to the “best of the best” of the classical core, hosted by Jeff Spurgeon in the morning, Midge Woolsey in the afternoons and Elliott Forrest during the weekend “brunch” hour. WNYC’s David Garland and Terrance McKnight, currently heard in the evenings on WNYC, will host classical music in the evenings on WQXR. Naomi Lewin, the new afternoon host, joins WQXR from WGUC, Cincinnati’s Classical Public Radio. Lewin has also produced Met Cameos for the Metropolitan Opera’s international radio broadcasts.

“The transformation of NYC’s beloved all-classical music station WQXR into a public radio institution is truly a moment of inspiration and commitment for WNYC,” said Laura Walker, President and CEO of WNYC Radio. “Our organization has such great respect for the tradition of making the finest classical music accessible to all New Yorkers, and we are excited to blend this legacy with the vitality of and connection to the city WNYC is known for. We aspire to create a bridge from the great era of the New York Times’s ownership to a vibrant future for classical music on radio and online by staying true to our commitment to the audience first, and by enlivening the experience through partnerships with our colleagues at other New York cultural institutions.”

Listeners of Classical WQXR 105.9, as the station will now be known, will continue to hear many of their favorite shows at the same times as in the past, such as the Metropolitan Opera Radio Saturday Matinee Broadcasts, The Philharmonic This Week on Thursday evenings, McGraw Hill Young Artists Showcase on Wednesday evenings, and Symphony Hall each weeknight; they will also hear more programming from the city’s cultural organizations such as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. (Program grid available upon request.) Exploring Music, hosted by Bill McLaughlin, will now be heard at 11 PM and its production will migrate to WNYC’s studios in Hudson Square.

A new radio stream called “Q2” will be launched simultaneously with Classical WQXR
105.9; it will be available at This new online radio station will feature “500 Years of New Music” and will be programmed by WNYC’s Executive Producer for Music, Limor Tomer. With a more contemporary focus than WQXR, it will also feature large-scale festival programming as well as live concerts from venues around New York, including WNYC’s new performance studio, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space. A weekly two-hour version of Q2 will air on WQXR on Saturday nights at 10 PM, hosted by Terrance McKnight. Further details about Q2 programming will be announced separately.

The first music WQXR 105.9 FM listeners will hear when they tune in on October 8 at 8 PM will be a concert by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, broadcast live from Carnegie Hall, and featuring music of Beethoven, Stravinsky, and Bach, and a world premiere by Aaron Jay Kernis. The broadcast will be hosted by David Garland and Midge Woolsey.

WNYC’s purchase of the broadcast license for 105.9 FM and the WQXR brand and web site is being supported by The Campaign to Preserve Classical Music Radio in New York City, a $15 million campaign co-chaired by renowned classical pianist Emanuel Ax and WNYC board members Nicki Newman Tanner and Martha Fleischman. The campaign has raised $7,669,000 to date.

The nation’s first commercial classical radio station began in 1936 when W2XR owner and founder John Hogan joined with advertising executive Elliott Sanger to create the Interstate Broadcasting Company. The company’s chief asset was W2XR. In December 1936, W2XR’s call letters were changed to WQXR. The FM station signed on in 1939 and both were sold to The New York Times Company in 1944. The Times Company completed the sale of the AM station to Radio Disney in 2007. The sale of WQXR-FM to WNYC was approved by the FCC on September 8, 2009 in a multipart deal including Univision; it will close on October 8, 2009.

WNYC Radio is New York’s premier public radio station, comprising WNYC
93.9 FM, WNYC AM 820 and As America’s most listened-to public radio station, reaching more than one million listeners every week, WNYC extends New York City’s cultural riches to the entire country on-air and online, and presents the best national offerings from networks National Public Radio, Public Radio International and American Public Media. WNYC 93.9 FM broadcasts a wide range of daily news, talk, cultural and classical music programming, while WNYC AM 820 maintains a stronger focus on breaking news and international news reporting. In addition, WNYC produces content for live, radio and web audiences from The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, the station’s multi-purpose, multi-platform, street-level broadcast studio and performance space. For more information about WNYC, visit

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WNYC press contact:
Jennifer A. Houlihan
Director, Publicity
160 Varick Street
New York, NY 10013
T: (646) 829-4497
F: (646) 829-4327
[email protected]

© September 2009, 21C Media Group

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