Classical music on Lamoille County radio station 101.7, WCVT-FM, will be replaced by more contemporary tunes along with news, starting July 1. The new format will be broadcast on a combined signal called “The One” on 101.7 and 101.5, WEXP-FM.
WCVT was one of the country’s last commercial stations broadcasting classical music, said Eric Michaels, vice president and general manager for the station’s parent company. The locally owned Radio Vermont Group also operates 550 WDEV-AM, 96.1 WDEV-FM and 93.9 WLVB-FM.
Radio Vermont started its classical station in 1997, and Michaels said it was well-loved.
“But loving it and supporting it are two different things,” he said.
Competition from Vermont Public Radio crowded WCVT out of the market, according to Radio Vermont president and CEO Ken Squier.
“Economically, we just couldn’t make it work. And we don’t beg,” Squier said.
VPR, an affiliate station of National Public Radio, split its mixed format programming into two signals in 2006. Squier said the market for classical music in north central Vermont is not big enough to support both Radio Vermont and VPR.
Robin Turnau, VPR president and CEO, said the 2006 decision was driven by increasing demand for the classical music and news and information programming VPR offered.
“It was getting harder and harder to serve both,” Turnau said.
VPR started as a mainly classical station in 1977, she said, and had gradually introduced more news and information as NPR programming expanded.
Michaels said in addition to the growing challenge of raising advertising dollars for WCVT, the Radio Vermont Group realized an unusual opportunity when it acquired 101.5 FM. Instead of broadcasting two signals close together on the radio dial, the proximity makes it easier for Radio Vermont to brand a unified stream aimed at a broader audience.
Michaels said the programming will be hosted live and produced in-house.
“We didn’t subscribe to a satellite program or anything like that,” Michaels said. “It will be a multi-genre contemporary music format with a wide variety and many songs that are not typically played in our market today.”
Longtime classical music host Brian Harwood will retire. Weather forecasts from Roger Hill will continue, along with news and information from the Radio Vermont News Network.
The new morning drive-time program will bring former DJ Marion Carol back to the airwaves for “Wake-up 101 with Marion Carol,” from 6 to 9 a.m.
Frankie Allen, currently afternoon drive announcer on WLVB-FM, will take the role of music director on 101 – The One. His new program, “Allentown,” will air from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Jim Knight will host “The Edge of Knight” from 1 to 7 p.m.
The format change will take effect July 1 at 6 a.m.