Last month I had the distinct honor of attending, and presenting at the annual Public Radio Program Directors Conference in Austin, TX. I didn't get to spend as much time there as I would have liked, but it was really nice meeting other Public Radio professionals, and sharing my ideas behind what I do.
One of my presentations was on engaging audiences through classical music programming. I thought I'd share with you some of the notes I used in preparation for the conversations:
- What vocabulary is leaving listeners in the dark?
I think it’s important to demystify words and phrases that we use all the time in classical radio, that people may still not have a strong grasp of.
EXAMPLE - “What sorts of nocturnal things can you think of - maybe nocturnal animals, or most people’s nocturnal sleep schedule? How about music written under the inspiration of nighttime, and things nocturnal? Here’s a NOCTURNE by Frederic Chopin.”
2. Are there ways to address current events in the programming and delivery of classical music?
Coming from the performance world and trying to get people to come to concerts, I always made a big deal about reminding people that classical music isn’t an insular art form. It’s always had a relationship with what’s going on in the world, and always will in my opinion.
EXAMPLE - “Despite America’s racial challenges that are still in the conversations these days, early 20th century black American composers like William Grant Still, still managed to celebrate what makes us different AND the same, through classical music. You’ll hear traditional classical structures, alongside then contemporary black musical aesthetics like jazz and blues in this, his Symphony No. 1.”
EXAMPLE - “Up next, a piece by composer Jean Sibelius, titled, “Finlandia”. It was written as an anthem to both celebrate Finnish culture and its people, while protesting Russian involvement with their Press. Don’t you find it interesting that this conversation is at the front of our news these days? Feel free to think about that as you listen here.”
3. How can social media play a role in audience engagement?
I use social media each and every day to remind people that I’m on, and to either give them a sample of what’s coming, or to give them a reason to consider classical music. I’ve found emphasizing the personal, social aspect of social media to be the most effective.
This post touches on current events, but also adds a personal touch that people might find attractive. If a listener doesn’t appreciate what's being said in this post, it's fine - I'm only looking for engagement. You'll also notice that this post came with a listener correction - there's nothing I love more than learning from the audience.
If you're looking for a career in radio, or if you simply appreciate what you hear over the airwaves, I hope this post gives you something you can take away. I'm 2 years in, and looking forward to many, many more!