To the editors:
Having finally plowed through Jay Andres’s letter [June 12], I’m afraid I have to prolong the tedious debate on classical radio. Unlike Mr. Reihl and Mr. Andres, I not only like the music of Bach and Brahms better than easy listening, I also believe it is better music. If this means I’m a snob, all right then, I’m a snob. Am I supposed to apologize for having good taste? I’ve always considered myself pretty low in the ranks of music lovers, but I do think that good music is part of normal life and something that can speak for itself: it doesn’t need to be made more palatable with golf jokes, or put on a pedestal with the solemn and lugubrious delivery that is Mr. Andres’s other way of coping with it. Clearly having been used to DJing easy listening (neither he nor Mr. Reihl has contradicted this statement), Mr. Andres obviously came to WNIB regarding classical music as something alien that has to be surrounded with chatter, a la Howard Cosell, because it isn’t entertaining enough by itself. All you had to do was listen to him to hear this. At the same time, I can’t recall ever hearing anything from him that might actually be helpful to less informed or experienced listeners, such as the date of a piece or what movements it consists of. This was why I called Mr. Andres a lowbrow, although his attitude toward classical music is much more elitist than mine. He would have been barely noticeable on most stations, I suppose, but it was extremely irritating to hear him on what used to be a decent classical station.
And I really don’t understand all his talk about pomposity, reverence, exalted states, etc, simply because I prefer listening to music to listening to inane chatter. My idea of a first-rate classical music announcer is someone like Carl Grapentine on WFMT or Fred Heft on WNIB, neither of whom can be called pompous or even particularly serious. What they are is relaxed and without unpleasant mannerisms, and more important, without the exhibitionistic urge to promote themselves as Radio Personalities. It may not seem very flattering to be complimented on one’s negative qualities, but I, for one, am grateful to them for not interfering with my musical pleasure.
Mr. Andres’s assertion that people who have trouble getting going in the morning find the sound of his voice more pleasant than the sound of good music doesn’t improve my opinion of his taste. Obviously the people who still listen to WNIB in the morning (I stopped quite a while ago) like this kind of noise, but what about the rest of us, those of us who used to buy the program guides that WNIB is now giving away? I have nothing against fans of pop, rock, or EL, but I don’t think they should be allowed to determine what goes on classical radio. WNIB, however, seems bent on driving away its classical audience–witness the recent deletion of Past Masters. Well, I give up on them.