Keep classical music on the air in Dallas

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From triumphal marches as we make our morning commute to sonatas that ease quarantine isolation, generations of Dallasites have embraced the opportunity to tune into WRR-FM (101.1), our city’s classical music station. WRR’s powerful signal reaches 210,000 listeners weekly, reaching far and wide to provide residents of the city and North Texas with access to arts and culture.

Our organization, Friends of the WRR, has worked for nearly four decades to support Texas’ premier radio station, to secure the future of the WRR, and to ensure that the classic arts stay on the air. Over the past year, we’ve sponsored over $100,000 in commercial-free classical music, supported WRR’s COVID-19 recovery, and marked WRR’s centennial with a celebration at Dallas Heritage Village.

We have also spent the past 12 months meeting with City Council members and staff to discuss the future of WRR as part of the search for a third party manager. We have always been grateful that both bidders were of the highest quality. You couldn’t ask for higher caliber organizations than the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and KERA.

Unfortunately, the process itself caused us deep concern because it paralleled Houston’s path to losing KHUA-FM (91.7), its classic station. Our concerns were heightened in response to the city’s procurement language that a new operator could change the format from classic to anything that would generate the necessary revenue.

Our alarm for the future of WRR is now fully formed as we learn from the city that in addition to considering KERA as the new manager of WRR, the city council will also consider selling the station outright.

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The loss of the station would be a disaster not only for the city’s artistic mission, but also for its equity and inclusion goals. No other city-owned artistic asset reaches so many people with the classical arts. No other arts asset offers WRR’s level of visibility to emerging arts organizations working to thrive as the arts emerge from the pandemic.

Over the past few days, we’ve met with several KERA staff members, including KERA President and CEO, Nico Leone, and KERA Content and Diversity Manager, Sylvia Komatsu. We are grateful that they see what we see in the power of WRR as a classical music station. They recognize WRR as a vibrant pillar of the arts community, and we wholeheartedly agree.

The Friends of the WRR ask you, Dallas Morning News members, to join us in supporting KERA as they make a future possible for WRR. We ask board members to join us as well in supporting WRR by voting in favor of management by KERA. The alternative is silence where there was beautiful music and a loss to the artistic community that can never be restored.

Rachael Glazer is Chair of the Board of Friends of WRR, an organization that has worked with WRR-FM (101.1) and the City of Dallas to ensure that classical music is an integral part of the North Texas community. She wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.

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