Thursday, October 08, 2009

New York's WQXR Radio Changes Owners, and Frequencies, Starting Today

WQXR, the classical radio station that's been a fixture on the New York City airwaves for decades, has changed owners and, as of 8 p.m. tonight, has changed frequencies.

The station, which was long owned by the New York Times, was acquired in a three-way deal in which pubic radio station WNYC acquired WQXR. WQXR can now be found at 105.9 FM... the former frequency of Spanish-language station WCAA-FM, which is owned by Univision (the third party in the transaction). WCAA swaps frequencies with WQXR, and is now broadcasting at 96.3 FM. A blend of classical music meant to appeal to younger listeners can be found on an online stream called "Q2," according to an article in the Times.

On thing that's not changing is the station's format: it will still be devoted to airing classical music.

WNYC bought WQXR for $33.5 million. Laura Walker, WNYC's president and CEO, explained the transaction in a letter on its Web site. WNYC also has a set of frequently asked questions on the WQXR acquisition.

WQXR is an all-classical station that survived in a rough market that's seen many stations change hands and program formats. Unlike those stations, WQXR was being sold not because of lack of interest in its classical format but because of the continuing financial problems of its owner, the New York Times. (WQXR's slogan was, "The radio station of the New York Times." Which used to be radio stations, in a time in the past when WQXR had both an AM and an FM frequency playing classical music.)

WNYC now has three stations. WNYC AM (news and talk) will probably see few if any changes. WNYC FM, which plays classical and other music but has been featuring more news and talk over the years, will probably more even more in that direction as some of its classical programs and hosts move to WQXR.

I've enjoyed listening to WQXR off and on for more than 30 years, so I'm glad to see it still around, and still playing classical music. The new WQXR can be found at 105.9 FM in the New York metro area and at

Having just become a public radio station, WQXR is already taking part in a longstanding tradition of that genre: the pledge drive (naturally, they've got to pay off that $33.5 million somehow).

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