As a lover of classical music for decades, I have been dismayed by its gradual decline in our society. In most record stores today (at least in north Texas), it is increasingly difficult to find a section of the store dedicated to classical music, or even new age music for that matter. Instead, I find our culture swamped constantly by rock, country, and even rap music. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with those genres, since I listen to plenty of rock and even some country myself (indeed, I grew up only with country since that was all my parents would listen to). OK, I don’t like most rap. Want to call me elitist for that? Be my pest!
Still, I find the situation very unbalanced and unjust. Once a form of music becomes unpopular, it tends to remain so since radio and TV stations ignore it, resulting in few people hearing it. That creates a barrier to musical diversity. Ironic considering that free market systems supposedly promote innovation and diversity. But when maximizing profit is the only real issue, popularity and the willingness of people to spend money on what is popular and easily accessible are what counts, literally. And that is where free market economics fails, because many people find more to their lives than making lots of money or being popular. Instead of thinking freely, children are encouraged to blindly follow the crowd by such pressures.
It was with this concern that I made the following music videos on YouTube, to promote uplifting music, including types seen as “new age”.
To me, that is simply leveling the playing field. Indeed, one of the wonderful things about the internet is that it allows “radio” broadcasts of various forms of music that are no longer heard on regular radio, if they ever were.
In all of north Texas, there is only ONE radio station devoted to classical music: WRR 101.1 FM.
The City of Dallas-owned radio station not only pioneered the local airwaves; WRR was the first licensed broadcast station in Texas and one of the nation’s five inaugural stations.
Operated by the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, WRR is an integral component of the City of Dallas’ commitment to providing access to arts opportunities to all its citizens.
City-owned radio stations may not be the norm in most broadcast markets, but WRR is not an average radio station. Licensed in August 1921, the station was originally housed in the Dallas Fire Department and touted as the latest in firefighter communications. When firemen had no blazing fires to battle, however, they blazed the broadcast trail by playing music or telling jokes.
WRR was the brainchild of inventor Henry Garrett, a Police and Fire Signal Superintendent for the City of Dallas who began tinkering with radio in his off-duty hours. Garrett envisioned radio as the modern way for firefighters in the field to communicate. And he sold city officials on the efficiency and safety value his concept could offer.
In a strictly free market/libertarian society, city or state owned broadcasting wouldn’t be allowed. WRR would have been sold to private investors who would then have probably turned it into a rock or country station to increase revenue from advertisers, even though we have dozens of those stations around here already!
Despite its public ownership, WRR is a commercial station and sells advertising. Over the years, private broadcasters in the Dallas-Fort Worth market have made numerous but unsuccessful calls for privatizing the station.
In case you think I’m being alarmist, look what happened to the original WRR station on AM radio:
KTCK (1310 AM; “SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket”), is a sports talk radio station based in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The station, currently owned by Cumulus Media, has been made popular by the incorporation of humor alongside the sports talk……The 1310 kHz frequency has its origins as WRR, which was licensed in August 1921 and became the first broadcast radio station in the state of Texas, and the second in the United States. In 1948, WRR launched an FM station; the AM station played popular music while the FM station carried classical music. 1310 was split from WRR-FM in 1978 and became the first of several incarnations of KAAM when it was owned by the same company that owned KAFM (92.5 MHz) until gaining its current call sign in 1994.
Why should people who love classical or new age music forms be discriminated against by a supposedly “free market” system? There is nothing “free” about that, and it’s certainly not just! If there was something offensive about those types of music (like there is about “gangsta rap” or some forms of heavy metal), I’d understand why it was being shunned.
A strictly free market is no way to improve our culture, which has been decaying for many decades. A mixed economy which allows for uplifting music and arts forms to be seen and heard is better.