Recently SiriuxXM cancelled its over-the-air Pops channel that I listened to in my car. That channel played a steady, commercial-free selection of terrific popular classical music selections. That decision sucks in more ways than one.
I listened to the Pops channel regularly. In fact, it was my favorite SiriusXM channel, and part of the crucial classical music rotation that I could quickly shift through to find something I really liked. That included SiriusXM 74 (Met Opera Radio), 75 (Pops), and 76 (Symphony Hall), as well as WOSU-FM, the local classical music outlet. Sure, the Pops channel self-promotions were kind of mindless and irritating (“Bassoons and oboes and cymbals, oh my!”), but it was a reliable refuge that could be counted on to play some baroque or Strauss when Symphony Hall was playing an interminable Brahms piece or Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue when I felt like listening to something other than the theme music for a United Air Lines commercial.
It’s pathetic that SiriusXM has only one real classical music channel, as well as the Met channel. After all, this is a satellite radio service that has dozens of pop and rock stations, each specifically devoted to a particular kind of music — say, music from the ’60s, or acoustic stuff, or heavy metal. They’ve even had a station devoted to Billy Joel. Billy Joel! I think Piano Man is a perfectly good pop song, but how about some actual piano music from Beethoven or Mozart?
Can it really be that there are so few classical music fans out there that classical music is less in demand than Billy Joel? My God! What does that tell you about the state of our country?