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KVNO Omaha’s Sports/Classical Mix

You’ve heard of dual format stations, a combination of music and news, right?  And some stations play classical and jazz.  But have you ever heard of a classical music station that airs live sports events?

Starting August 27th, Omaha, Neb. station KVNO will add live broadcasts of University of Nebraska sports events to their otherwise all-classical format.

Read more here, from the Omaha World-Herald (via current.org)

KVNO is licensed to University of Nebraska, but it doesn’t seem that the university mandated this programming change.  Instead, the station has indicated that the new programming is a solution for funding shortages, since the university will pay the station for each game they broadcast.

KVNO is also adding two additional HD channels, which will include sports and student-produced programming. They’ve also left the door open for future program changes.  According to the World-Herald article, “Some public affairs shows are likewise planned.”

For now, classical music will be preempted on KVNO for football, basketball, and hockey.  There is one classical program that will not move an inch:

“If there’s a conflict between our Metropolitan Opera broadcast and a game, we’ll move the game to the HD channel,” said Franklin. “The Met Opera broadcasts will trump all.”

The other major issue is how the listeners and supporters of the station were informed; many learned about programming changes through emails from other listeners or an impromptu announcement by a musician at a concert.

What do you think of this unusual match?

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3 Responses to KVNO Omaha’s Sports/Classical Mix

  1. Mike Janssen July 22, 2009 at 11:49 am #

    When I was at WFDD in Winston-Salem, N.C., the station aired Wake Forest University football and basketball games on weekends for a time. WFDD was dual-format, not all-classical, so perhaps the sports weren’t as jarring. In fact, I’m not sure the station would even have aired classical during the times the games were broadcast — I don’t remember. The weekend lineup might have been more like most dual-format stations, with the one- and two-hour feature shows many stations carry.

    Nonetheless, the station dropped the sports eventually. I wasn’t really privy to why, but the Wikipedia entry on WFDD cites a newspaper article from that time (not online, unfortunately) which said that listeners complained and the music and sports didn’t mix.

    I even had the job of hosting those sports games, which I really didn’t like because I don’t much care for sports, the games went on for hours and were on weekends, the audio quality was AWFUL, and I had to play tons of underwriting spots to cover over the advertising that the feed contained. (I think a commercial station was also airing the games.)

    I tried to make the most of it by playing funky instrumental music such as Stereolab, Brazilian forro and classic ’50s instrumentals behind my announcements. I actually got a positive call from a curious listener once about the Stereolab, which almost made the whole abysmal hosting experience worthwhile. Almost.

  2. Richard Mitnick July 22, 2009 at 1:38 pm #

    WPRB ( http://www.wprb.com ), Princeton, which airs and streams Classical, Jazz, some Opera and Broadway, along with various genres of Rock, has forever broadcast Princeton football, basketball, and probably some other locally famous sports like lacrosse and soccer.

  3. Robert Ready August 5, 2009 at 9:54 am #

    Thanks Mona,

    I’ve worked at two stations (KCSN & KXPR) where there was a mix of classical music, long-form news and local sports.

    When there’s no live music announcer “back in the studio” to toss things to after a game the practice in Riverside-San Bernardino was to upcut music from the satellite service (C-24)–without any attempt to smoothe the segue. It sounded jarring, annoying and amateurish, at best.

    So, unless there’s a live music announcer available or a sports announcer able to take things to the top of the hour break, I’d argue strongly against such a programming move.

    -Robert Ready

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