NPR to Stop Producing 'Performance Today'

Thursday, September 7, 2006

National Public Radio said it will end production and distribution of "Performance Today," the most popular classical music program on the air, and eliminate 11 jobs in its Washington headquarters as a result.

Starting early next year, "Performance Today" and another weekly classical show, "SymphonyCast," will be produced by American Public Media, the St. Paul, Minn.-based distributor of public-radio programs such as "A Prairie Home Companion" and "Marketplace." APM will continue to distribute the program to some 230 stations.

The move is another sign of classical music's diminished role at NPR and its affiliated stations. Many public stations, including WETA-FM (90.9) locally, have dropped daily classical programming, including "Performance Today," in favor of news and talk programs.

WETA dropped "Performance Today," a daily program featuring classical concerts and interviews, last year when the Arlington-based station switched from a classical to a news-talk format. (WETA still airs a one-hour version of the program on Saturday afternoons.) "SymphonyCast" isn't heard locally.

Nevertheless, "Performance Today" still reaches about 1.2 million listeners on 230 stations nationwide.

American Public Media will produce the programs in its St. Paul studios next year. Sarah Lutman, the company's senior vice president of content and media, said yesterday that no "instantaneous changes" were afoot for either show. She said discussions were being held with "PT" host Fred Child and "SymphonyCast" host Corva Coleman to continue, but no agreements have been reached.

-- Paul Farhi

© 2006 The Washington Post Company