Tonight at 8PM, the sale of WQXR arranged in July makes itself heard on the air. The deal was a three-way transaction: the New York Times company, continuing to hemorrhage money in the Pinch Sulzburger era, sold the WQXR name and website to WNYC (formerly a classical-music competitor, now long since taken over by the public radio talk-talk) and WQXR's most valuable asset -- its place in the middle of the dial and 6000 watt broadcast license -- to Univision Radio. WNYC also got the frequency (105.9) and 600 watt broadcast license heretofore used by WCAA, the Spanish-language channel that will take over the WQXR spot. So: the Times got money, WNYC got a station called WQXR at 105.9, and Univision Radio got to put its Spanish-language programming at 96.3FM with 10 times the watts.
WNYC's press reports have been fairly positive -- the "new" station opens this evening with a live concert from Carnegie Hall -- but it hardly disguises the literal marginalization of classical music radio in the city. And yet... It's hard to be depressed. I -- like many of my readers, I would guess -- grew up listening to WQXR: it was my parents' background music of choice. But it's been a long, long time since I've listened: CDs, mp3 players, internet radio, and now the Met Sirius channel have provided much more of the narrowcast musical experience I've wanted than the ever-more-watery broadcast model of QXR. Even Met radio broadcasts are better heard on the internet streams of stations that don't use huge dynamic compression for drive-time friendliness.
Listeners not comfortable with newer options may, of course, be harmed. But that is an ever-shrinking population.
At any rate, please remember that Met broadcasts will be at 105.9, not 96.3.