MPR Classical names Louisville’s Daniel Gilliam program director

Although I know Chopin begins like “showtime” and not “chopsticks,” that’s about the extent of my classical music knowledge. But classical fans might find significance in MPR’s newly program director, Daniel Gilliam.

According to the MPR’s release (below), Gilliam comes from Louisville’s Classical 90.5 (WUOL), where as program director, the station “substantially grew audience size and time spent listening.” 

Classical MPR’s ratings have been flat for the past year, after a downdraft in 2009 as Portable People Meter ratings technology took hold. That’s not necessarily awful, considering classical’s generational fade.

Gilliam’s Louisville record has been a counterpoint to that; here’s a straight-up rave. Writer Marty Ronish:

He’s fairly new at being a P.D. and doesn’t have some of the old habits and hangups.  “It’s no longer ok,” he says,

to talk about classical music as though it’s some sort of higher art that only the educated can appreciate.  We have to appreciate the immediacy and personal nature of the music.  Haydn and Mozart didn’t have Ph.D.s.  We have to be aware of the energy and subtlety we project. We don’t always give our listeners credit for picking up on the subtleties of inflection, like the old-school inflection that implies ”this is too difficult for you.”

You might think this is obvious, but just this week I heard a whole slew of stentorous voices – those arrogant, booming male voices that were ok 30 years ago.  If you’ve been on the air for 25 or 30 years, it might be time for you to either retire or change your style. 

WUOL has gone to exceptional lengths to promote for the local arts groups, support live concerts, have a presence at events, and even put the best of the local music on the air.  Both Daniel Gilliam and Jack Allen believe that if the station supports the community, the community will support the station.

As a philistine, I don’t know how much of this MPR has done already, and I am a clueless agnostic in the near-religious argument after MPR’s purchase of St. Olaf’s WCAL (reformatted as The Current). Feel free to express your hopes and dreams in the comments.

Anyway, here’s the release:

Classical MPR Names Daniel Gilliam Program Director

(St. Paul, Minn.)—November 3, 2010— Classical MPR has named Daniel Gilliam Program Director. The position oversees Classical MPR’s regional team and will lead initiatives to engage listeners and projects specific to Minnesota. Gilliam will assume his new duties starting November 8, 2010.

“After a national search, we’re honored that Daniel Gilliam has agreed to share his talents with us,” said Brian Newhouse, managing director, APM | MPR Classical Music Programming. “His knowledge of classical music and radio—both as a fan, radio host and composer—will be a great asset to our team as we seek new ways to share our excitement about the music.”

Gilliam comes to Classical MPR from Classical 90.5 (WUOL) in Louisville, Kentucky, where he served as the station manager and afternoon drive-time host. During his tenure at Classical 90.5, Gilliam oversaw the station as it substantially grew audience size and time spent listening. A trained composer and singer, Gilliam has written for the Turin Philharmonic, the Finisterra Piano Trio and the Louisville Youth Choir.

“We searched for exactly the right fit for us, and with Daniel, we truly got it,” said Tim Roesler, senior vice president and general manager, MPR. “I’m eager to work with Daniel to tap his classical music expertise for our listeners and members.”

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 11/08/2010 - 02:58 pm.

    Does Mr. Gilliam replace an existing Program Director for MPR Classical? What does this mean? What does a Program Director do anyway? I’m an avid supporter/listener to MPR Classical. In fact, it’s the only radio I listen to. I have the impression that programming is something each of the hosts does for their own time slots.

    Gilliam sounds like a good choice on paper. But heaven forbid that MPR Classical does something like “dumbing down” its programming. As it is, my only small gripe with the station is that it plays certain pieces a little too often. On the other side is the fact that it is generous in playing early music and a lot of new composers and local composers. And it’s not so long haired as to shun show tunes or slight cross-over by classical performers. So I’ll be wishing Mr. Gilliam the best as he starts his new job but with a critical ear.

Leave a Reply