It's finally thisclose to being official: On July 1st, WRCJ will move to a classical and jazz format, nearly one year after owner Detroit Public Schools announced that they would turn over operations of the station to a third party due to budget concerns. The new operator will be Detroit Educational Television, owner of WTVS-TV Channel 56, once that organization gives final approval of the 5-year agreement. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The planned programming for WRCJ is classical from 5am-7pm and mainstream jazz from 7pm-5am on weekdays, most of it coming from a satellite services. Weekend programs might include local gospel shows and audio from Channel 56's local public information shows. WRCJ has been operating on a limited basis (8am-5pm weekday) since late last summer when the Detroit schools announced plans to turn over operations of the station beginning October 1st, 2004. Over 6 months after that self-imposed deadline, DPS has finally taken the next step with this announcement.
Channel 56 plans on operating WRCJ through listener support/pledges as well as through foundation grants. "I believe there's a considerable market out there for people who love these two formats. We call it 'Mozart to Monk and Bach again'", said Robert Scott of WTVS, who become the station's manager. He further commented that there was a possibility that the station could have a live classical music host during morning drive and also provide shows featuring the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Jazz Festival.
Detroit hasn't enjoyed its own classical station since the 1997 change of WQRS-FM 105.1 to Modern Rock and has been without a traditional jazz station since 1989 when WJZZ-FM 105.9 moved to an urban format. CBC's Radio Two (89.9) programming from Windsor, ON has provided an outlet for classical fans since then, but that station hasn't gained much community support across the river. On Friday, officials with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra welcomed the news. "Classical music and jazz is a great choice to have back in our market," commented spokeswoman Jill Woodward. Channel 56 plans to operate WRCJ from the broadcasting facilities of Detroit's new performing arts high school located behind Orchestra Hall, home of the DSO.