FM radio station WFMT, once one of the crown jewels of the Chicago cultural scene, is one step above an abandoned building. Need proof? Consider last night, Sunday, July 31st.
At 8:00 P.M. , Henry Fogel's taped Collectors Corner program, which runs until 10:00, began. Last evening's edition was devoted to the work of the late conductor Klaus Tennstedt, and after a performance of the Smetena's Bartered Bride Overture, Fogel urged listeners to stay tuned for a final work, Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Except that, when he returned from break, Fogel was bidding his listeners farewell and offering a preview of the next week's show. Beethoven's 9th had disappeared, but WFMT's feed plunged on, blissfully unaware that over an hour of programmming had suddenly vanished. The announcer-in-a-can told us it was time for 10:00 P.M's Vocal Scene. It was 8:48.
It appears less that someone was asleep at the switch, than there's no one at the switch. Not that long ago, what is now the city's only classical music station issued a press release announcing with great fanfare that it had decided to create a more undisturbed sabbath for its listeners by dropping all Sunday newscasts, a risibly and transparently self-serving rationalization for still more staff cutbacks.
In its glory days under former Program Director Norm Pellegrini, WFMT was all about getting great stuff on the air. Today, it seems more like a welfare program for administrators. . . . read more