Frank and LydiaBergen Foundation Supporta Listener Expansion for WWFM The Classical Network


WEST WINDSOR, N.J. -- WWFM The Classical Network of Mercer County Community College, has received renewed support from the Frank and Lydia Bergen Foundation of Summit, NJ. The $37,500 grant will enable the station to expand its listener base for five locally produced radio programs through the Public Radio Satellite System, live stream and webcast media formats. Each of the five programs -- The Dress Circle, The Lost Chord, Sounds Choral, Cadenza, and the Distant Mirror -- brings a unique aspect of music and the arts to listeners across New Jersey and around the world.

A Bergen Foundation grant of $10,000 last year enabled the station to launch its Dress Circle program nationally, and to improve the station's website capabilities to offer local online programming. The Sounds Choral program recently was picked up by a station in northern Michigan so it will be syndicated through the satellite service.

The five New Jersey-produced programs focus on areas of classical music access and education that are in danger of being lost as many classical music stations narrow their playlists and become more homogenous in their programming, according to WWFM General Manager Peter Fretwell. Expansion of the station's classical and jazz programming listenership has been Fretwell's major goal since he joined the station in June of 2007. "Part of what we are doing with this generous funding is expanding our digital distribution," Fretwell said. Very recently the station joined iTUNES, which resulted in a huge increase in listeners for both the classical and jazz formats.

More about the affected programs:

  • The Dress Circle with Ted Otten and Michael Kownacky is WWFM's award-winning and longest-running program, dedicated to building listener appreciation of Broadway and show tunes as a genre of music that has its roots in classical music. The program is now in national syndication, thanks to the grant from the Bergen Foundation. Otten and Kownacky are members of the faculty at Mercer County Community College, and spend significant time traveling the northeast lecturing to community groups on topics related to their show and their passion for music. This year, they will deliver about 35 lectures.
  • The Lost Chord with Ross Amico focuses on classical offerings that listeners rarely have the opportunity to hear. As Amico puts it, "The title 'The Lost Chord' embodies the questing spirit of the show, which looks for happy discoveries made from among often forgotten treasures. That doesn't mean the music in question is deserving of neglect. Not by any means! All of it will be interesting, indeed enjoyable; it will wear its learning lightly.
  • Sounds Choral with Dr. Marjorie Herman spans the centuries, exploring both sacred and secular choral music, including works for a cappella chorus and those featuring the grandeur of chorus and orchestra combined. Occasional artist interviews enhance this thematic program. Dr. Herman is a member of the faculty at MCCC and is deeply involved in keeping choral music alive and vibrant in New Jersey.
  • Cadenza with David Osenberg presents the artists and personalities behind the music through personal and intimate interviews with renowned classical music artists - discussing their professional lives, education, and perspectives on classical music. Osenberg frequently travels to New York and Philadelphia to interview national and international stars and share their insights with listeners. Cadenza focuses on creating a bond between the performer and the listener that will enhance and enlighten the listening experience and strengthen classical music's future.
  • Distant Mirror with Allan Kelly highlights Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music. Spanning more than a millennium of music, host Allan Kelly draws on his graduate degree in European history to educate Distant Mirror devotees on the context of his program's musical selections.

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. A new jazz station, "Jazz on 2" was launched on Sept. 1, 2008, and airs on 89.1 HD2, one of 89.1's new digital channels, and online.

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 or call 1-800-622-9936.

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