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WDPR/WDPG provides ‘music for the soul’

Some things just work out to perfection.  This is the story of Dayton Public Radio, WDPR and WDPG, your 24 hour classical music stations.

The station began with an idea – Dayton deserved a true classical music radio station.  Musical icons such as the late Clark Haines gave it initial impetus.  Ed Kuhns, as attorney and secretary, oversaw the complex negotiations with Dayton Public Schools.

They successfully concluded an arrangement under which the fledgling station would share a frequency with the educational broadcasting of the school board.  Signing on each afternoon and continuing through the night, great music was served up to an eager public in teaspoon-sized dollops.

In spite of these rigid constraints, interest in the station and its music grew. The earliest support was often led by John Kohnle and General Manager Bill Combs.  Opportunities to expand the listening hours became a critical issue. After much effort, Dayton Public radio became a 24/7 enterprise, broadcasting on two frequencies, 88.1 in Dayton and 89.9 FM in Greenville.

While that is the early history and the beginning of its charmed existence, many other factors compounded this success story.  One factor especially enhanced the success. Dayton Philharmonic’s retired maestro, Charles Wendelken-Wilson, became the first music director.

Charles is a veritable walking encyclopedia of music. He carries that knowledge well-laced with a real passion for the art.  Under his gentle and yet persuasive leadership, a cadre of radio personalities were developed and each developed a devoted following.  

Larry Coressel has been the early morning host since the first days of the station.  Young, vibrant and handsome, Larry treks from Springfield in the wee hours to open the station’s broadcast at 6 a.m.  

The rest of the announcing staff each brings special gifts to the broadcasts. Lena Lonigro, Mike Jaffe, Hank Cates, Bob Weisman, Jim McCutcheon, Bob Johnstone and Peter Camm have hosted programs for years. Each of the announcers chooses his or her own music. Charles, ever present and always helpful, has guided the station into prominence.  

As Dayton Public Radio became “The Voice of the Arts,” several of Dayton’s musical professionals joined the announcing staff. Maestro Neal Gittleman of the Philharmonic and Impresario Tom Bankston of the opera host special programs throughout the year. WSU professor of choral music, Hank Dahlman, brings his specialty to the audiences each Sunday.  Dayton’s music reproduction genius Lloyd Bryant records local performances for reproduction on special programs and occasionally takes the microphone himself.

This describes the substance of Dayton Public Radio.  Now for the magic.  Both lay and professional leadership have set the bar at the highest level.  As general manager, Georgie Woessner has brought a leadership style which creates harmony and progress.  She has teamed with outstanding board presidents, each of whom was the right person for the right time. The Clark Haines, John Kohnle leadership lasted nearly two decades.  Bob Waltersheide oversaw the greatest growth in facilities and broadcasting coverage. He passed leadership to Mike Jaffe and Jim Goubeaux. Both of them consolidated the mission and direction of the station.

The board is very active and has superstars with special gifts, adding to the luster of the station.  Special financial support is led by Charles Berry , Jim Goubeaux, and Dr. Ben Schuster. Jim DeYoung is a master planner and has developed long-range policies which have been followed with sterling results. Phil Office has created innovative program ideas which culminating in state-wide recognition for the station. There are party planners and fund raisers but all are music lovers.  Dr. Ben Schuster has stated time and again that the DPR Board is the most fun board on which he has ever served. That seems to be a universal acknowledgement.

Recently, more positive changes have occurred. Jill Bishop has taken over the development and marketing areas. Shaun Yu has become the station’s first program director. His knowledge of radio, particularly classical music radio, is a great compliment to the station.  His changes have already borne fruit.

Larry Kensington, a fabulous on-air voice, has now become the daily morning host. The day, Coressel to Kensington to Wendelken-Wilson is better than any major league infield. They play off each other and provide music which has sent the ratings to new heights.

Even the often arduous task of fundraising takes on sprightliness. Twice a year, the week-long fund drives become “fun” drives. Volunteers pour in, the phones ring and there is a real concern on the streets for the campaign goal.  

The fundraising efforts have also spawned a unique combination. The low point of public radio’s fundraising is almost always the Saturday opera. Not so Dayton Public Radio. A band of zanies now called “The Opera Mavens” take over the airwaves on opera Saturday spreading arias and humor with great financial and fun results. Maestro Charles, opera presenter Hank Cates, Mike Jaffe and, yes, it is I, form this quartet supervised by Helena Carter and Jill Bishop. We may be a bit silly and even rather impudent but our audience responds in the same spirit.

The story of Dayton Public Radio continues to be told. While cities, many of them major metropolitan areas, are losing their classical music broadcasts, DPR is gaining strength. To our ever increasing audience, this is truly music to our ears.

If some of you, my dear readers do not take advantage of our “music for the soul, turn to FM 88.1 or 89.9. World peace does not depend on your actions but everything else good and beautiful does.

Twelfth Night March 14 - 16

WSU Theatre’s performances of the all-female Twelfth Night, directed by Mary Donahoe, are moved to Friday/Saturday, March 14 & 15, and Saturday/Sunday, March 15 & 16 in the downstairs Herbst Theatre.

Tickets go on sale ninety minutes before each performance: $10 general admission, $7 seniors and students, and a special $2 Saturday matinee, March 15.

Tinkerbell Tea slated for March 16

The Dayton Ballet and Ballet Barre are hosting the Tinkerbell Tea in conjunction with the Sunday performance of Peter Pan. The tea will be held on March 16 at 1 p.m. at the Top of the Market Banquet Center at the Webster Street Market, 2nd and Webster.  

The event promises to offer fun with Peter Pan themed crafts, a raffle full of items fit for parents and children, plus transportation to and from the Schuster Center in a limo bus provided by Beats Feet Limo.  Signature raffle items for this year will include autographed pointe shoes and a performance photo from each female company dancer.  Parents and children will also receive a special gift just for attending this event.

Tickets to attend both the Tinkerbell Tea and the 3 p.m. performance of Peter Pan are $35 for children and $45, $42, $34, and $29 for adults based on Schuster Center seating.  To attend the tea only prices will be $20 for children and $15 for adults.  RSVP deadline is March 10.  To make a reservation call the Dayton Ballet Office at 937/449-5060 and ask for Emilee or Diane.

Blackbird String Quartet performs at Schuster 

The Blackbird Quartet, pictured left to right: Oakwood junior and senior high students Clara Hofeldt, violin; Josh Halpern, cello; Amy Malone, viola; and Ellen Milligan, violin, and solo violinist Rachel Barton Pine (center), guest artist with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra.

The blizzard of ’08 caused the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra to cancel its weekend concerts, but provided a unique opportunity for the Blackbird String Quartet comprised of Oakwood junior and senior high school students to perform on the main stage of the Schuster Center.

The Blackbird Quartet including Clara Hofeldt, violin; Ellen Milligan, violin; Amy Malone, viola; and Josh Halpern, cello was originally scheduled to play in the Schuster Center’s Wintergarden before Saturday night’s concert.  When the blizzard prevented the full orchestra from attending, the DPO changed the program for the evening and invited the Blackbird Quartet to perform two pieces on the main stage before guest artist Rachel Barton Pine played. Pine finished up with a two-hour violin solo for the several hundred people who braved the weather to attend.  

The quartet played the first movement of David Stone’s Second Miniature Quartet and the second movement of a Haydn quartet nicknamed “The Bird.”

The Blackbird Quartet has performed together since 2006. They are members of the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, the Dayton Philharmonic Junior String Orchestra, Muse Machine, Oakwood High School Chamber Orchestra and Giving Strings.

In addition to performing at the Schuster Center, they have played at other public and private venues throughout the region for weddings, receptions and special events.  

The quartet is coached by DPO violinist Betsey Hofeldt of Oakwood; they are students of Oakwood Junior and Senior High orchestra teacher Nan Watson of Kettering.

OHS orchestras rate high at state contest

The Oakwood High School Freshmen Chamber Orchestra competed at the State Orchestra Contest on March 1 in Kettering. They received a ‘Superior’ rating. The Symphony Orchestra received an ‘Excellent’ rating. They are pictured here together at the OMEA-sponsored event.

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March 11, 2008
Volume 17, No. 11

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