• News/Talk
  • Music
  • Entertainment

Ideas & Tips for Using Radio to Build Concert Audiences and a Healthy Cultural Ecosystem

Read on for suggestions from performing arts and radio station personnel. Learn about mutually-beneficial opportunities for collaborations which may work in your community. Help us build this list with your ideas, too!

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Download Document CLASSICAL 101: a Primer for Performing Arts Partnerships
A new Working Paper from the Classical Music Initiative on how radio is made, partnering with local stations and national distributors, Web initiatives, the classical radio universe, and more!

Music programming
News/cultural affairs programming
Web site & e-marketing
Events – on-air & off-air
Support station fundraisers
Talent/resource pool

Music programming:

• Provide CDs of your artist/ensemble/organization's performances for airplay

• Provide concert tapes (tip: provide top quality performances AND top quality audio – with cleared rights to broadcast)

• Collaborate on live broadcasts from venues

• Create in-studio performances

• Use excerpts from concert broadcasts as "audio PSAs" to promote upcoming concerts (when broadcast clearances permit extra plays)

Tip: Be as flexible and generous as possible with music clearances/broadcast permission from artists; make it easy for stations to play with you – i.e. promote you!

The Bottom Line: Make sure it's good radio with top quality performances, great engineered sound, and lively, engaging, concise commentary/interviews. If listeners turn off the radio, no one benefits: not the station, arts organization or, most importantly, the radio audience.

News/cultural affairs programming

•News features

• WCLV/Cleveland engages two critics to review Cleveland Orchestra and other selected concerts. The purpose of Considered Opinions is to provide a critical voice beyond that of The Plain Dealer, Ohio's largest newspaper. The Considered Opinions broadcasts are sponsored by a local advertiser.

• Artist interviews

• Station arts magazine, Arts Minute, Morning Spotlight and/or promotional arts "informercial" programs

• WQED/Pittsburgh honors a volunteer each month with the VITA Award ("Volunteer in the Arts") - a check for $1,000 and a feature on its one-hour weekly "Sunday Arts Magazine"; VITA is sponsored by a local company.

• South Carolina Arts Commission produces a series of radio segments called "Arts Daily" and a website (www.artsdaily.org) for SC Public Radio's 8 stations that the producer says has been "more wildly successful than they could have ever dreamed."


• Give-aways: tickets & CDs to promote concerts

• Contests: community outreach

• KPBS/Portland stages an annual Talent Search (18 & younger) with a concert broadcast on Mother's Day

Web site & e-marketing

• Post radio station URL on arts Web sites & in e-newsletters (and vice versa)

• Provide music clearances to post archived broadcasts (complete or excerpts, streaming or MP3 downloads) on station and/or arts organization Web site

• American Public Media's Web site for American Mavericks has a Listening Room with two "on demand"music channels - "Crunchy"or "Smooth"– depending on how you like your new music http://musicmavericks.publicradio.org/listening/

• WMFE/Orlando archives its weekly "Arts Connections"broadcasts of its coverage of Central Florida's cultural events for "on demand" listening http://www.wmfe.org/907/arts/

• Create Web site content for added value to the music experience

• Host/producer Brian Newhouse wrote a lively blog (Web log) of his experiences at the 2004 Music@Menlo festival for MPR's Web site & accompanying broadcasts http://www.americanpublicmedia.org/programs/music_menlo/journal/2004/

• Encourage station to set up an affiliate partnership with an online retailer to post "Buy CD" links with station playlists to sell your commercially available recordings

• The classical Web retailer ArkivMusic.com provides playlist linking for a growing list of participating stations that includes WQXR/NY, WGMS/DC, KUSC/LA, KDFC/San Francisco, KING/Seattle, KMFA/Austin and WDAV/Davidson, NC. Stations use playlist linking as a station listener service, and they receive with royalties on each CD sold.


• Buy time on the air for underwriting spots to ensure delivery of your message

• Schedule for frequency and consistency: a listener should hear the spot at least three times if you want him to act (i.e. buy a ticket to your event). You can build your brand by running a spot at the samem time each day for habitual listeners.

• Media sponsorships are two-way streets: in exchange for on-air credits, trade space for a station logo in programs, brochures, posters, etc.; trade tickets for station client and staff usage.

• Help stations find companies to sponsor radio “Arts Minute” and arts magazine programs that promote local arts events (companies get positive exposure and benefit form the “halo effect” aby supporting and aligning with arts community).

• Help stations find sponsors for ongoing daily or weekly programs. Especially in commercial classical radio, broadcast time is money – and costs money. Stations budget according to the revenue each hour should bring in via advertising spots or program sponsorship

• Gain exposure on radio station Web sites: banner ads, streaming audio spots and page sponsorships. Capitalize on the large volume of traffic radio stations generate from music programming and on-air promotion.

• Classical 103.5 FM in Washington, D.C. (WGMS) is one of many stations with an arts community-rich website: arts calendar (with do-it-yourself postings), ticket exchanges, arts spotlights, etc. www.classical1035.com

Events – on-air & off-air:

• Request DJ hosts at concerts & events

• Pre-concert lectures or ongoing hosting during concerts

• o Go where your audience lives and plays. Minnesota Public Radio provides announcers and performers for entertainment at the State Fair as well as local orchestra performances!

• Station presence/community involvement:

• WQED/Pittsburgh broadcasts in the evening from a remote booth in the downtown Cultural District. Visible to pedestrians, it provides opportunities for impromptu interviews and performances, and it sounds live and local

• Live performances of national radio shows on tour, such as A Prairie Home Companion and From the Top, are opportunities for local station outreach. Listeners have the chance to meet each other and for stations have the chance to see their audience in the flesh.

Support station fundraisers:

• Provide tickets, CDs & memorabilia as pledge premiums, discounts on tickets for station Arts Cards

• Las Vegas Public Radio prints an annual cultural guide for the season (Sept – May); sells advertising & distributes to members

• Provide staff for phone banks, artists and execs help pitch on the air, board members to offer challenge grants

• Provide artists to donate recorded performances for station fundraiser discs, fundraiser jingle/phone number, donor house concerts and station pledge parties

• KPBS/Portland sponsors Classical Cruises for pledges of $40: afternoon-long cruises on the river with live performances

Talent/resource pool:

• Provide stations with talent and resources from artists/arts organizations to host and/or produce radio programming

• Station provides talent and resources to benefit arts organizations: pre-concert lectures, music appreciation classes, educational outreach in schools

• Classic99 (KFUO)/St. Louis "gives back to the community that supports it" with an extensive educational initiatives program, including "Classic Kids at School" and "Young Heroes in Music" concerts http://www.classic99.com/eip.htm

• Station provides space for community arts board meetings

• Invite station personnel to join arts boards (and vice versa)

• Co-produce CDs with station logo on the back

• WQXR/NY helped the Orchestra of St. Luke's launch its own label, St. Luke's Collection, in a co-production deal that included promotional radio spots

• For its second release, St. Luke's collaborated with Minnesota Public Radio, who provided liner notes for Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and facilitated the CD's offer as a public radio fundraiser pledge premium via VisAbility.com

Send us your ideas! Let’s build this list and trade ideas!
What performing arts and media collaborations work for you to build audiences for classical music?
What’s your case study of a perfect partnership – where everybody benefited?

Send your success stories, ideas, suggestions and comments to info@classicalmusicinitiative.org

National Endowment of the ArtsThe Classical Music Initiative is supported in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from Mr. and Mrs. Howard Solomon.

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