The provider of classical programming to UIndy's radio station 88.7 WICR changed its name this week from Fine Arts Society to Classical Music Indy. It's a move that better reflects what the 45-year-old organization actually does, namely supply programming for UIndy's two FM channels, including live, weekday drivetime shows; several locally-produced specialized shows (early music, choral music, concert bands, etc.); and a few programs purchased from Chicago classical giant WFMT (notably the excellent Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin).
Chris Tolzmann, Director of Development and Marketing for Classical Music Indy, goes into more detail in the following email interview. Note that Classical Music Indy is making an effort to engage and dialogue with the community on the ways in which it might best help promote classical music. I, for one, would suggest looking toward what New York classical station WQXR has done with its second digital channel, Q2 Music, in making it a home, to quote from its mission statement, "for the music of living composers, immersive festivals, live webcasts and on-demand concerts from today's leading new-music performers and venues."
Other thoughts: The ISO has demonstrated that there's a way to present new music in an engaging, relevant way, from Time for Three to Happy Hour to its new partnership with New Amsterdam. I wonder about a way for Classical Music Indy to feed into that momentum. What if Time for Three or NewAm DJ'ed on a regular basis? Or how about a Butler JCA Composers' Orchestra Hour? (I suppose a Butler-taped show might not work on UIndy's airwaves, but the idea stands of broadcasting new, and sometimes brand new, classical music performed locally.) Or shows along the lines of WNYC's New Sounds, which considers minimalism alongside Baroque dance forms and math rock? Just a few ideas; here's our interview.
NUVO: Was the Fine Arts Society concerned more broadly with the fine arts, in general, at one point? And what hastened this name change?
Chris Tolzmann: Yes, apparently when it started in 1969, in addition to broadcasting classical music on a local FM station, leaders and supporters would gather in one of their homes to discuss art, literature, etc. Our co-founder and 30+ year volunteer president, Norbert Neuss (who passed away in 2006) was an ardent modern art supporter and every inch of the walls in his home was covered in modern art.
The name change has been in discussion for many years and more earnestly since 2006. The primary factors in getting it accomplished were the addition of several dynamic members to our board in 2012 and 2013 who made it a priority for our increased community recognition and a more visible presence. The mix was right and timely of the new members, longtime board members who embraced the forward momentum, and staff members determined to assist and get it through. It was included in our new three-year strategic plan approved by the board in June 2013. That plan also directed a marketing plan be created and the name change was included in that and approved by the board in October 2013.
Another strategic plan goal is to continually explore the potential offered by evolving and emerging media delivery and access technology and our new name was chosen in part to more accurately state who we are and what we do as we look to expand our broadcasts into other technologies.
NUVO: What kind of programming do you do beyond the drive-time classical mix listeners might be most familiar with?
Tolzmann: We're a producer of syndicated classical music radio programs. Our current sole client is the University of Indianapolis and their WICR - FM/HD 88.7. The staff of WICR decides what is broadcast on the station and our program director works with theirs quarterly on what programs we'll supply, either ones we create or ones we purchase from other syndicators for broadcast on WICR.
Besides our live weekday a.m. and p.m. commuter drivetime shows, our other locally created shows we currently supply to WICR, and their FM/HD-1 broadcast times, are Choral Colors (Sun, 7-8 a.m.), Concert Band Hour (Sat, 7-8 a.m.), AntiquaNova (early music performed by modern ensembles, Sun, 6-6:30 p.m.), and Masterworks (Wed, 10 p.m.-midnight). We also work with two organizations to produce shows - Christ Church Cathedral on their Choral Evensong Service (Sun, 6:30-7 p.m.), and UIndy on their music Faculty Artist Series concerts (Sun, 7-8 p.m.). We create two other local shows that only air on WICR-HD 2: Classical Music with Anna Pranger (Sun-Sat, 9 a.m.-noon and Mon-Fri, 3-4 p.m.) and Operas from our Library (Sun, 1-5 p.m.). Our remaining shows are high quality ones we purchase from the classical music show creator and syndicator WFMT, Chicago.
NUVO: Can you detail the ways in which you'd like to or plan to become more involved with the community?
Tolzmann: Currently we work with classical music performing groups from Bloomington/Columbus to Anderson/Muncie/Lafayette to promote their concerts through their paid radio spots, hotlinks on our website's Local Music page, promotion of their concerts in our weekly arts calendar on our website, and promotion on our social media pages.
Our marketing plan calls for increased and cross-promotional partnerships with them through more strategic and frequent promotion of their concerts on our social media pages, on a blog we plan to have on our website, promotion of articles on our blog on social media, ticket giveaways to their concerts on social media, and lobby tables at their concerts and day-of social media posts about it.
These are hopefully just the start of becoming a more engaged, active, and visible classical music partner and leader in the community and the start of dialogues with the organizations on how we can together promote each other and the art form.