WWFM The Classical Network Receives Major Donation


WEST WINDSOR, N.J. -- WWFM The Classical Network, the radio network of Mercer County Community College, has received its largest donation ever. The Sunup Foundation of the Princeton area has presented a legacy donation of $100,000 to be used for "capacity building," says General Manager Peter Fretwell. "We will be adding resources and reaching out to the community."

In donating the grant, the foundation's principals said that "the station adds so much joy to our daily lives that we want to make sure this wonderful music remains accessible to everyone." The donors have requested that the grant be used for purposes that go beyond the network's operating expenses, which are partially funded through member donations. The next on-air membership campaign is set for March 8-16.

The donation comes at a critical time for WWFM, which has been actively pursuing expansion and community service opportunities since Dr. Patricia C. Donohue began her tenure as Mercer County Community College president one year ago. "The college community is delighted to accept this generous donation," she said. "We heartily thank these donors, as their gift will enable our radio professionals to pursue ambitious goals that will benefit our region's community of music lovers."

One of those goals, Fretwell says, includes taking WWFM's "old school classical format" into the New York and Philadelphia markets. "Program Director Alice Weiss and our 15 local hosts have created a unique classical format that we believe will be well received in New York and Philadelphia," he said. "We have a sense of stewardship and optimism about the future of classical music. Those two cities will give us the listener base we need for that future."

Also joining the station in recent months is Heidi Jamieson, who is working to establish new underwriting and grant support. Currently she is working with MCCC Grant Writer Barbara Prince on the development of a grant proposal for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, along with the Garden State Philharmonic and Westminster Choir College, to develop scholarships for students who need musical instruments. The proposal is to start a community instrument donation program.

"Many needy students must choose voice because they can't afford an instrument," Jamieson said. "We know there are many instruments that are collecting dust in people's attics, and we hope to make good use of them."

WWFM has been establishing partnerships with leading area cultural organizations, and plans to expand the list, which now includes the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Princeton University Concerts, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Princeton Pro Musica and the Princeton Singers.

In another effort, WWFM is reaching out to a talented classical music community in China, where Western classical music is wildly popular. "We hope to get recordings of exciting young Chinese talent to give our listeners a sneak preview of the next generation of classical superstars. The broadcasts also can be transmitted back into China via the web," Fretwell said.

He credits WWFM host Donald Venezia with the webcast concept, and the idea gained momentum after Fretwell saw a New Jersey Symphony Orchestra audience's response to a piano concerto performed by a 17-year-old from Shanghai. "The concert gave the audience a real sense of hope that the music they love will continue into the future. Their response was overwhelming."

WWFM plans to take advantage of new media opportunities as they evolve. "We are not just about the airwaves," Fretwell said. "We see ourselves as purveyors of classical music. Our chief engineer, Phil Joiner, was one of the first radio engineers to see the potential of the Internet and other new media for our format. He keeps us on the cutting edge of technology." According to the New York Times, classical music reportedly accounts for 12 percent of sales through Apple's iTunes.

WWFM The Classical Network is licensed to Mercer County Community College, and its main studios are located on the college's West Windsor Campus. The network is New Jersey's only classical music network providing programming 24 hours a day. It began broadcasting in 1982 and serves New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and portions of Delaware and Maryland. It offers simulcast programming via satellite to portions of Colorado.

WWFM relies on diverse sources of funding for its operating budget, with the largest source of income generated through annual support from its listener-members.

For more information, visit www.wwfm.org or call 1-800-622-9936.

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