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No More Shabbat on the Radio

Public ownership kills New York’s weekly broadcast

by
Allison Hoffman
October 08, 2009

At 8 p.m. tonight, the New York Times Company will hand ownership of its 75-year-old classical music station, WQXR, to the local public radio station, WNYC. For classical music fans, the switch means tuning to a new frequency—105.9 FM, instead of 96.3—but for Jewish listeners, it means the beginning of the end for the station’s decades-old weekly Friday night broadcast of Shabbat services from Temple Emanu-El, the Reform bastion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. WNYC spokeswoman Jennifer Houlihan said that WQXR will discontinue all of its religious programming—which also includes Sunday-morning church services—as of January 1, 2010, in accordance with the station’s policy on nonsectarian broadcasting. The synagogue, which will continue streaming services on its website, is still hoping to find another broadcast outlet, but administrative vice-president Mark Weisstuch tells Tablet Magazine that, as of now, “we have not met with much success in finding an alternative radio home.”

Allison Hoffman is a senior editor at Tablet Magazine. Her Twitter feed is @allisont_dc.

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