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What we lose with WNYC's cancellation of John Schaefer's 'New Sounds' / I CARE IF YOU LISTEN

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Late last week, the news broke that WNYC, New York City's flagship NPR station, was cancelling all of music journalist John Schaefer's programming, including "New Sounds" and "Soundcheck." In the ongoing shift to become an all-news format, WNYC also announced its intent to discontinue the majority of its music programming by the end of this year. As the memo to the staff put it, "This is a continuation of the momentum that began when we replaced daytime music on WNYC-FM with news/talk format programs in 2002."

On the airwaves since 1982, "New Sounds" bills itself as "New York Public Radio's home for the musically curious," telling us to "free your listening from the limits of genre and algorithm." Avant garde giant Laurie Anderson was the show's very first guest. Here was a space on the radio where tuning in could take you to Olafur Arnalds' otherworldly field recordings of his native Iceland that he transformed into glistening electro-acoustic singles on the album Island Songs. It was a place for Pulitzer Prize winner and Bang On a Can co-founder Julia Wolfe's Fire In My Mouth, a multimedia orchestral work that compiles archival information collected about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. Premiered by New York Philharmonic earlier this year, Fire in My Mouth is a musical exploration of this tragedy for full orchestra, women's choir and unusual instrumentation that includes 100 pairs of scissors.

Through "New Sounds," bold and idiosyncratic music was accessible to anyone with a car stereo or a $10 radio via "America's most listened-to public radio station."

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