New York’s WQXR is a leading radio station in the classical music world, so when they make big changes, people tend to notice. This morning marked the beginning of a big shift when it comes to the organization’s content and the delivery of that content.
On a video conference call early this morning, Graham Parker, general manager of WQXR, announced the addition of a new online streaming service, Qamilton (pronounced “KWAM-ilton”). “Q2 has been a successful digital content venture for us in recent years, and we’ve been looking to add additional specialized streams to tap into enthusiastic new audiences,” Parker said. “You can’t walk two steps in New York without hearing someone talk about Hamilton, so we decided we needed to be a part of that excitement.”
The new Qamilton stream, which launched a few hours ago, will start simply by playing the original Broadway cast recording on loop. Parker said that additional features would be added later, including commentary from cast members and composer/lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda. “We’re also looking into the possibility of adding additional streams dubbed in Spanish, German, French, Japanese, and Mandarin to appeal to an even more diverse audience,” added Parker.
WQXR has dedicated three powerful servers to the Qamilton stream, each with large bandwidth capabilities. “We can handle quite a lot,” said Bill Moss, senior broadcast engineer for WNYC/WQXR as Leslie Odom, Jr. belted “Wait for It” in the background, “but we expect we’ll be running at full capacity most of the time. For at least the next six months, until things calm down, people may endure long waits trying to connect to the stream.” Moss recommended that the best time to listen might be during a brief window between 3 am and 4 am when streaming numbers are expected to be lowest. Anticipating this, WQXR plans to offer guaranteed no-wait streaming logins during its upcoming membership drive. “For a one-time gift of $600 or a sustaining membership of $50 per month, you will be provided a username and password that will guarantee high-quality streaming without buffering,” said Parker. “The fair market value of this service is $550, so the tax benefits won’t be great, but the entertainment benefits will be huge.”
Parker refused to comment on the price tag for the new stream, as negotiations with Warner Music Group and the union representing the cast of Hamilton were still ongoing. “It’s safe to say that we’re counting on a lot of people becoming new members at the $600 level,” said Parker, though he didn’t offer anything more specific.