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Cue Sheet entry


Our station manager forwards this item from the Radio and Internet Newsletter, which I post here without much comment other than that it seems that when you strongly dislike a particular sort of music (harpsichord, vocal, organ, bagpipes), any amount of it can seem excessive:

KING FM (Seattle 98.1) listener Evan Muehlhausen doesn't care for harpsicords. But "over the past few years, I've noticed that when I tune to the station, I always seem to hear the plinky sound of a harpsicord," he writes. He was going to complain to the station, but before he did, he "wanted to investigate whether my ears were deceiving me."

Muehlhausen collected and analyzed 30 days of playlist data (around 3,000 "playlist items") posted online by KING FM, assigning composer era information to the songs played. The result? "The data shows that KING FM is innocent of the charge of favoring Baroque music [harpiscord's "heyday"] over other eras. Indeed, they play less Baroque than anything else... Looks like my own bias against harpsicord has affected my statistical judgment. Good thing I actually checked before blaming the station."

So the next time a listener calls to complain, why not point them to Muehlhausen's blog post here? He helpfully explains in detail how he collected and analyzed the playlist data. Surely, any radio listener who cares enough to call or write would go through the same trouble Muehlhausen did.


katrina @ Sep 11, 2012

ahhhh yes, I recall the early days of sitting next to my wet dog, listening to the symphony of skeletons copulating on a tin roof accompanied by nails on a blackboard and garbage men at 7:00 a.m.

Dave Abbott @ Sep 16, 2012

Nice to know that I am not the only one who is not too crazy about solo harpsichord music. Like it with an orchestra (especially Poulenc's Concerto) and even in some chamber works and is perfect in small doses in spooky film music but, by itself, a little is too much.

At least there is not as much counter-tenor music as harpsichord out there today. (My apologies to all counter-tenor and harpsichord enthusiasts).

Yaelli @ Sep 27, 2012

Oh dear, I must agree. Harpsichord is OK with an orchestra, but by itself, it grates on my aural nerves. Glad I'm not the only one! When it comes on my Pandora classical station, I always give it a thumbs down.

Seve niichel @ Sep 28, 2012

In May I relocated to a remote mountain location 12 miles south of Patagonia from the Portland oregon area. Cell phone reception and internet are a bit spotty here as is radio. I discovered to my delight 90.5 was a clear signal. However your programing is so chaotic in flow that it is an endurance test to make it through 2 hours.This is not a one time occurrence. I will turn on your station at different times several days a week. I want to listen to and support a community station.I have spent years listening to classical music literally from rising till bed on 89.9 All Classical ,a Portland station, every day. I can not recall ever having to turn it off. I read copulating skeletons and have to comment that 10 years of all day listening vs 2hrs. max is not focusing on something unwanted anymore than standing in the rain thinking of sun will keep you dry. Classical music brings a higher energy into ones life. It is inspiring,tingling intellectually stimulating. Contemporary or early all has a place.However harmony constantly shoved up against dissonance is a challenge in an already busy and stressful world. This station can be an outreach to the community and most importantly bring this very vital music to the young which is the preservation and the future of classical music. So my suggestion is to study the programing and personal rapport the staff at 89.9 seem to cultivate with listeners.You can stream it on the net. Steve Niichel

Heff @ Oct 7, 2012

I’m not one to normally post comments, but I must feel I must respond to Mr. Niichel’s post. I’m lucky enough to live in an area where I can receive not one, but two full time NPR classical music stations over the airwaves - KUAT-FM and KBAQ-FM. (The southern portion of the Phoenix metropolitan area is in the fringe reception area for KUAT – thanks Mt. Lemmon!) Like Mr. Niichel, I keep one or the other of these stations on much of the day. They are both terrific stations, and I would hate to part with either. But I have noticed a significant difference between them. KUAT’s programming is 1) far more varied, and 2) much more likely to play lengthy works in their entirety. As to variety, KUAT is far more likely to pleasantly catch my ear with a piece that is by a composer that I’ve never heard of, or by a piece that is rarely played. Just recently, I’ve noted works by, for example, Gillis, Rega, and Kalinnikov – composers of whom I had not previously been aware. Granted, on occasion something may rub me the wrong way, and I’ll actually switch stations. Nevertheless, I’ll take the occasional challenge of too much diversity (vs. the ‘never-offend’ approach). But personally, I value the variety, and as a result KUAT tends to be my start-of-the-day station of choice. And as to the length of pieces, what other station would play a Tchaikovsky ballet in its 90+ minute entirety?? Bravo, KUAT – I can listen to you all day long! Please keep up the good programming KUAT (and KBAQ too)! I’m still contributing to both stations!! P.S. In the interests of full disclosure, I once built a harpsichord, and still love the dynamics of its unaccompanied sound (best experienced sitting at the keyboard), so perhaps that disqualifies me from participation in this ‘tin roof’ discussion. :^)

Richard @ Oct 15, 2012

We all have our lists of dislikes. Personally I like harpsichord and fortepiano in any and all contexts but run screaming from anything with a solo (French) horn, whether a concerto or a wind quintet. The instrument has a noble sound but intonation is all too often wobbly, even in professional groups. But I am extremely happy that KUAT plays such a wide variety of new and obscure music and I have no difficulty switching to KUAZ for the duration. :)

Dave Abbott @ Oct 17, 2012

Nice to see that others agree with me about solo harpsichord music. Also nice to see that I found one of the harpsichord makers alive and well. Guess everyone is neutral on counter-tenors.

Have a few things to add. I recall several years ago enduring what I felt was an excruciatingly painful listening experience with a bunch of viol players performing a piece which I am sure was not as long as it seemed. At the end of the piece, the announcer calmly said that we just heard a Vile (my spelling) piece by so and so. I was just glad that I was at a red light when he said that.

I like the variety that KUAT has to offer although it still seems like they have way to many harpsichord pieces in relation to everything else. I also like the extended works which usually show up on Sunday afternoon and early evening and missed them this week. Hope KUAT gets back to the extended works again.

KUAT used to rarely have anything composed prior to 1800 before 9AM and I am glad that they got away from that although the 6-9 AM slot could be a little more varied. I prefer lively stuff to help me get going - 1812 Overture, Boris Godunov Coronation scene, Corroborree (sp), Panambi or some of the classic film themes like Conquest from Captain From Castile, Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, or King Kong. Wish they would add some more of those to the playlist.

Dave Abbott @ Oct 21, 2012

I usually listen to KUAT for about an hour after I wake up in the morning, late at night, for unique concert pieces and while in the car.

As most of you know, last week was pledge campaign. Twice, after the pledge break, the first items played were solo harpsichord pieces, one which lasted almost as long as it took me to go from Golf Links and Kolb to Harrison and Wrightstown. I rest my case.

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About Cue Sheet

James Reel's cranky consideration of the fine arts and public radio in Tucson and beyond.

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