Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: "Creative" and "Flexible"

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  • Peter Hoar,

    > But Concert FM has an amazingly narrow and specific view of culture.

    I've never been convinced by this one. Concert plays music from 1000 years ago to stuff written last week. Its geographical spread is world wide in terms of playlist and that's without the World/Jazz etc. I would suggest Concert's "view of culture" is the widest you will find on any radio station in NZ. To write it off as "classical" indicates an almost wilful ignorance both of what the station does and what so-called "classical music" is (or was, or might be)
    Spare me the "dead white male' slightly pongy from old age and overuse red herring.

    Oh, thanks Trevor - you got there already!

    Geoff L.
    The commercial classical station that ran in Auckland 1991-93 was called "Fine Music" The frequency was sold to the Rock in the end due the station not making its management brain-numbing heaps of money REALLY FAST. The only thing that interests private radio.
    As one who worked at Fine Music, I know of the suffering I speak of.
    Full length lamentations and a few jeremaids re this topic free on application.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2007 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Roger Lacey,

    I'm not a regular Concert FM listener but appreciate it being there as an oasis where I can get away from the chatter of commercial radio. Much like we have parks in our cities we need non-commercial spaces in our airwaves.

    Whatakataka Bay Surf Club… • Since Apr 2008 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Ackroyd,

    I see a chance for commercial sponsorship of art music and would like to suggest Office Max commission John Psathas to write the Headdesk Concerto. Members of the NZSO to play desks, ranging in size from junior-school to CEO, and a chorus going "ow" in four-part disharmony.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 158 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I don't fully buy Danyl's argument, but I'm equally unconvinced that it will be a Haitian-scale national disaster if Concert FM is partly commercialised.

    They can call it The Telecom Radio New Zealand Concert* for all I care, but I'd like to know why. Why are we doing this? The government killed night classes in order to fund private education, and is reviewing services and cutting public service jobs in order to... what? Lower the top tax rate? Show me that the money from limited sponsorship of the concert programme (as I say, naming rights are okay by me) is going to strenghten other areas of public broadcasting or plugging some of the gap in funding of RNZ that Russell talked about. Otherwise I'm really going to have to go with "fuck you"**.

    *Except it would be down for days from time to time I guess.

    **Again, not you personally. Nor Craig.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Craig, I think Gio's "fuck you" was aimed at the government , not you personally. Let's keep our personal interactions reasonably seemly.

    I know Russell, and "fuck you" is not a public policy argument either of us would have any luck with if we were Broadcasting and Arts Ministers in a Fantasy Government. Nor should we expect to. Sorry to let a little reality into the room, but Health, Education and Police are always going to be the easy sells in any Budget round, and no amount of pouring and foot-stomping is going to change that.

    Personally, I'd love it if the Auckland Theatre Company and New Zealand Opera were guaranteed an extra four million a year each from local and central government. It might just give them a cushion for ambitious and off-beat choices that can fail without dragging the whole operation down with them. But it was already a huge risk for the ATC doing The Crucible (and doing it exceptionally well) two seasons back, because paying living wages to a cast of 19 chews through a huge amount of money. Doing something on the scale of Stoppard's Coast of Utopia trilogy or the stage version of Terry Pratchett's Nation being mounted by the National Theatre in London is unimaginable. (The closest we're ever going to get to the latter is NT Live coming to a cinema near you very soon.)

    Hell, even the Metropolitan Opera -- a more DWM "elitist" cultural institution would be hard to find -- has had to cancel new productions, reduce seasons and pretty much impose pay freezes across the board because the value of their endowment has collapsed and donors are keeping their hands in their pockets.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12363 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I'd like to know why. Why are we doing this

    I guess my point (that I've obviously failed to make) is that the question is not 'why not?', but 'why?'. If someone asks me why we need Radio New Zealand, or public libraries then I can (I think) make a pretty good case for why we need those institutions, how they serve the public good and how the taxpayers benefit from them. But when it comes to Concert FM there doesn't seem to be a case to make, other than 'because I like it' or 'why not?'

    And, as I've pointed out you can use these arguments to make a case for any conceivable expenditure of taxpayer money: free ice-creams? I like it! Why not?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Commercial sponsorship of Concert will have two results:

    1) The schedule will be lightened, because the sponsors want large audiences and don't like difficult music;

    2) other areas of the arts will lose funding, because there is only so much sponsorship money going around.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr,

    free ice-creams? I like it! Why not?

    Icecream makes you throw up after a while.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 395 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    1) The schedule will be lightened, because the sponsors want large audiences and don't like difficult music;

    Really? I haven't noticed the Met: Live in HD series having any problems attracting venues or sponsors, despite some pretty challenging repitoire among the bums on seats bon-bons. Armida isn't exactly the first title that comes to mind when you say Rossini's name, and Abroise Thomas's Hamlet is terra incognito to me. Then again, I've been most pleasantly surprised by the audiences for difficult modern works like Peter Grimes, Doctor Atomic and Tan Dun's The First Emperor

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12363 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Does it really? You keep dismissing it as "a classical music station" but it isn't. It is a station that plays classical music. It also plays jazz. It plays contemporary world music. It plays documentaries, debates and discussions.

    I enjoy Concert, but I don't think it's as diverse as you make out.

    Perhaps we should be looking at a RNZ Two, with a focus on music but a slightly wider remit than the current one?

    Of course, such a suggestion to my mind implies an expansion of RNZ's work and resources, rather than a contraction. In Australia they've funded both the ABC and SBS to create further channels - because they realise that quality broadcasting and local content is important.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    I guess my point (that I've obviously failed to make) is that the question is not 'why not?', but 'why?'.

    Why? Well, my first thought when I saw that one of the budget-trimming suggestions was to cut the overnight programming, was: yep, and watch the suicide rate go through the roof.

    Not joking. On many an insomniac or jetlagged night, I have listened to the deliberately calm and soothing voices (on both National and Concert) linking the deliberately calm and soothing programmes and music, and thought "yep, tonight a DJ is saving somebody's life."

    Free solace over the airwaves, a little public mental health subsidy via your aerial. Even if it's not your cup of tea ordinarily, it's only a twist of the dial away when you need it.

    Perhaps Concert has a bit of a branding problem, though, if we can't come up with a nifty "why" in five minutes. Didn't it used to be the station that broadcast the cricket commentary, back in the day? And if it still were, would we even be having this discussion?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1471 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    On many an insomniac or jetlagged night, I have listened to the deliberately calm and soothing voices (on both National and Concert) linking the deliberately calm and soothing programmes and music, and thought "yep, tonight a DJ is saving somebody's life."

    Maybe they should rewrite the charter to ban the broadcast of Sibelius and Mahler after 10 PM.

    Didn't it used to be the station that broadcast the cricket commentary, back in the day? And if it still were, would we even be having this discussion?

    I think taxpayer funding for sports broadcasting is even more indefensible than the Concert program. And don't get me started on our ongoing obsession with publically funding yacht-races.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    quality broadcasting and local content is important.

    There is continuing inertia on digital radio here, too.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2509 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    It has always interested me that when arts funding is under threat, there is always a rush to defend the high culture sector (ballet, symphony orchestra et al)

    I agree, and a broader understanding of "culture" is hardly controversial.

    I support public funding for RNZ Concert on the basis of its contribution to our local cultures - including commissioning, recording and interviewing composers and performers of ALL genres and all ethnicities.

    I agree Euro classical and opera is part of that mix - but it's only one, and I'll take some convincing it does not currently enjoy disproportionate subsidies and other resources. I'm heartened to hear that world music has a foot in the door at RNZ Concert.

    Mr Litterick, just look around you next time you're amidst the sea of subsidised blue rinse at a philharmonia gig and tell me why that deserves funding which similarly creative electronica/indie musicians are not offered. Same with awards and music schools at universities.

    I want to see better support for all creative endeavours, and especially for what young people here find most relevant, including their diverse heritage.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19428 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr,

    I enjoy Concert, but I don't think it's as diverse as you make out.

    It might seem like that if you look at one day's programming - but if you look at the range of programmes available (scroll down to 'Our Programmes' - and I hope it's not as scrambled on your screen as it is on mine) I think it's got something for a lot of people (or taxpayers as we are known these days) - and it's unique in this country, and it's broadcast here, so we have an ability to influence it.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 395 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr,

    I want to see better support for all creative endeavours, and especially for what young people here find most relevant, including their diverse heritage.

    Well that's part of the same issue, isn't it? Why would informed people be saying either/or on this one?

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 395 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Jan, I just had a look at "Today on Concert", and saw nothing that I would label diverse.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    In Australia they've funded both the ABC and SBS to create further channels - because they realise that quality broadcasting and local content is important.

    It's still regrettably not something that reaches every home, but one would be remiss not to mention the new TVNZ channels, there's some good programming there. And newscasts that one doesn't feel ashamed and/or dirty for watching, and that can be shown to the children! Fancy that.

    But when it comes to Concert FM there doesn't seem to be a case to make, other than 'because I like it' or 'why not?'

    And, as I've pointed out you can use these arguments to make a case for any conceivable expenditure of taxpayer money: free ice-creams? I like it! Why not?

    Seriously, if you insist to compare the music broadcast by RNZ Concert to ice creams than I'm going to go ahead and suggest that maybe it's you, you know.

    But if I had to make the argument to somebody capable of differentiating between Bela Bartok and refrigerated dairy products, then I'd say that the concerts and the documentaries played by the RNZ Concert are valulable in exactly the same way that a library is and would be hard to come by on commercial airwaves, and that furthermore they reach communities where such things aren't available for love or money. Coupled with the fact it costs very little money to run, I find it a bit mind-bollging that anybody would want to just get rid of that.

    Sometimes it's like liberals seem bent on doing the work of the Right for them.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Another why: this Friday, Feb 26, 8pm on RNZ Concert: the first-night concert of the Festival of the Arts. Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand. Featuring not just the NZSO but five different NZ choirs. Sold out, apparently. But if you want to hear this one-time performance, LIVE, you have only to drop out, turn on and tune in.

    Back when I was a teenager, at the beginning of the week I used to sit down with the Listener (the old, giant newsprinty Listener, the one with Tom Scott in it, and Ranginui Walker, and massive book reviews) , and mark up the 1YA and 1YC schedules so I wouldn't miss any of the good stuff.

    They played music - and words - that I just couldn't hear any other way. I think I even stayed home from school once or twice to hear things I really wanted to hear... different versions of various pieces, new pieces by names I recognised, very occasionally something written or played by someone I might have met.

    That's still true, I think. Not sure where else a music-mad teenager could conceivably listen to the entire Mahler Symphony No. 8, with their mates in it, in stereo, in one sitting, for free.

    ETA: in other words, what Giovanni said.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1471 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Mr Litterick, just look around you next time you're amidst the sea of subsidised blue rinse at a philharmonia gig

    Really, Sacha, I get that classical music sucks and we're all a pack of useless white elitist leeches but you think the tiresome stereotypes could go back to the land of the dead? Hey, I don't go to 'creative electronica/indie musicians' gigs because I can't stand being around drug-crazed soap-dodgers and emo Goths who need to get a tan and move out of their parents. Am I right, or am I right?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12363 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Bad timing I guess, but having Joanne Black on today's The Panel won't do much to increase my warm regard of NatRadio. Another case of someone with excessive access to the public discourse?

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2509 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I wouldn't go that far, but I wouldn't be terribly uncomfortable with some programme sponsorship.

    Like Danyl, I haven't heard any arguments as to why the government should fully fund a concert radio station, any more than why it should fully fund... kiwi fm or something like that.

    I don't have a problem with the government owning the station, if it's unlikely that a private provider will sustain it long term. However I don't see why its music should be free from sponsorship or adverts any more than any other form of music.

    If people don't want their concert FM music interrupted by adverts, do what I did when I got sick of advertising on radio stations, and bought CDs (see also, DVDs vs watching TV etc).

    I'd prefer if the Left's response wasn't "oh, okay, you can have the concert programme, because we know you work hard and deserve lower taxes". I think the correct response is in fact "fuck you".

    Giovanni, I think the left (and I include myself in that) would do better if they were willing to make sensible funding decisions and cut funding to things where appropriate. If we have to be opposed to things just because they're from the right then we'll look as much like dicks as them :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 6242 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    If people don't want their concert FM music interrupted by adverts, do what I did when I got sick of advertising on radio stations, and bought CDs (see also, DVDs vs watching TV etc).

    Dear Lord. Yes, people with money and access to posh CD stores probably don't have much of a need for Radio New Zealand Concert. And they should be our sole constituency.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Concert has a weekly jazz show. It also has a weekly world music show. It has a country/blues/Americana show. It has shows that play experiemental music and new genres.

    But this is a few hours a week - the rest of the 168 hours is exclusively dedicated to orchestral and concert music.

    The argument that Concert is diverse is a very weak one. If anything, bFM, which has all of those shows (and a much better country/Americana show), and goes out of its way to promote new music genres and New Zealand artists is more deserving of subsidy.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Dear Lord. Yes, people with money and access to posh CD stores probably don't have much of a need for Radio New Zealand Concert. And they should be our sole constituency.

    Giovanni, if the New Zealand Government is to fund a station devoted almost entirely to one genre of music, then why should it not fund all genres equally?

    I'm quite comfortable with people who say that there's a gap in the market which commercial stations cannot fill, but I'm not hearing that, at least not yet.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

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