RNZ propose dumping Concert programme and targeting ‘youth’

Someone at RNZ thinks it is a good idea to turn off an older audience and cater for younger people by dumping the Concert programme (and 17 staff), and converting to something targeting a younger audience (who tend to live online).

This has stirred up protest by older people, including Kiri Te Kanawa and Helen Clark.

RNZ: RNZ set to cut back Concert and launch new youth service

In the biggest overhaul of its music services in years, RNZ is planning to cut back its classical music station RNZ Concert and replace it on FM radio with music for a younger audience as part of a new multimedia music brand. Mediawatch asks RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson and music content director Willy Macalister to explain the move.

The broadcaster is proposing to remove RNZ Concert from its FM frequencies and transform it into an automated non-stop music station which will stream online and play on AM radio.

It would be replaced on FM by a service aimed at a younger, more diverse audience as part of a new multimedia “music brand”.

RNZ Concert would be taken off FM radio on May 29 and the youth platform would be phased in ahead of its full launch on August 28.

RNZ’s music staff were informed about the proposed changes this morning in an emotional, occasionally heated meeting with the RNZ music content director Willy Macalister, head of radio and music David Allan, and chief executive Paul Thompson.

According to documents for staff, the move would eliminate 17 jobs at RNZ Music, including all RNZ Concert presenter roles, from late March.

Those would be replaced with 13 jobs at the new youth platform, while four remain in the downsized RNZ Concert service and RNZ Music in Wellington.

The documents for staff say the proposed changes are aimed at securing new audiences for RNZ.

While its listenership is predominantly Pākehā and skewed towards older people, the new music brand would target people aged 18 to 34, including Māori and Pasifika audiences, the proposal says.

If they are after new audiences, why not ditch news and current affairs programmes and replace them with talk back about trivial topics?

Why not ditch radio altogether and switch to streaming? That’s where the growth in audiences is.

Some dismay has been expressed.

Stuff: Axing of Concert FM ‘disenfranchising’ for older RNZ listeners

According to RNZ, the weekly cumulative audience for RNZ Concert is 173,300 – or 4 per cent of the population aged 10+.

A Facebook group named Save RNZ Concert had more than 5000 members, and a change.org petition had more than 2000 signatures as of Friday morning.

Arts Centre of Christchurch chairwoman and the former chairwoman of Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Felicity Price, said it was a “bizarre decision”.

“To sack all its engaging hosts and use taxpayers’ money to instead set up an Auckland radio/online radical sharing alternative that would be more appealing to the non-white youth market is simply absurd, short-sighted and surely in breach of its charter of ‘reflecting New Zealand’s cultural identity’ and ‘recognising the interests of all age groups’,” she said.

Many Concert FM listeners were elderly and enjoyed interacting with the presenters. Having an automated service would disenfranchise that sector of society, she said.

University of Canterbury senior lecturer Patrick Shepherd said there was a ground-swell of protest against the proposal.

“The musical community are up in arms and I think rightly so … Having a contemporary and classical music station doesn’t make the books balance but as a society we want that there because it has value in our community and is a vital part of our culture. It’s like closing down an art gallery because not enough people are going there,” he said.

Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi said he was working on a plan to address concerns raised by “loyal listeners”.

He met with RNZ’s chief executive and chairman last week and “made some concerns clear to them” about aspects of the plan.

A spokesman for Faafoi said the concerns were reminding RNZ of its charter and ensuring it understood the feedback of all listeners.

The organisation was struggling to attract a youth audience, and the proposed youth station was one way to address that.

They may still struggle to attract a youth audience, and turn off the audience they currently have.

Stuff: Dame Kiri te Kanawa calls RNZ proposal to dial down Concert an ‘inestimable blow to the arts’

New Zealand opera legend Dame Kiri te Kanawa is leading the chorus of outrage over a proposal that will gut RNZ Concert in favour of a youth-focused radio station.

In a statement, the world-renowned opera singer said losing the station would be “an inestimable blow to the arts in New Zealand”.

“So many of our young artists have become known to a wide audience thanks to broadcast on RNZ Concert. I sincerely hope that the powers that be in RNZ will reconsider the backward step announced in the media today.”

Clark, who held the arts and culture portfolio during her nine years as prime minster, said the decision was a “severe diminution of the cultural services available to New Zealanders”.

“The plans to decimate the Concert programme need to be seen in the context of the National Library no longer wanting to have an overseas collection and the National Archives deciding to drastically reduce its opening hours,” she said.

“What will be next? Such decisions raise serious concern about the level of support for cultural services available to New Zealanders.”

NZ Herald: Former Prime Minister Helen Clark wants Ministers to scrap plans to ditch Concert FM

She tagged Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi in the tweet.

Clark even went as far as saying there was a “pattern here of destruction of cultural services available to New Zealanders”.

In response, Robertson said he was looking into the issue.

“I am advised it is still a consultation and we will be talking to RNZ about their options.”

Speaking to media this morning, Faafoi said he was also looking at ways to mitigate some issues around Concert FM.

Faafoi said that he met with RNZ’s board last week and outlined some of his concerned about the proposed move.

Maybe it’s an RNZ decision and not up to the Government, but I guess the current Labour leadership can just blame this u-turn on NZ First.

Save RNZ Concert on Facebook now has 6,910 members.

The Minister, please Save RNZ Concert AND fund the new youth network petition currently has 4,083 signatures.

 

Kiri Te Kanawa beaten by nuns

Violence in New Zealand used to be a normal part of New Zealand society. Many of the effects of this continue, as does much violence.

Today it’s hard to imagine nuns being violent but there have been many claims of violence in religious institutions and schools.

Kiri Te Kanawa claims to have been beaten by nuns at school.

NZ Herald reports Dame Kiri Te Kanawa: ‘I was beaten by the nuns as a child’

“I’m tough … I’m tough because I have had to be. I was beaten by the nuns as a child.”

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s revelation stunned an audience of several hundred in Whanganui.

The celebrated singer, in the city to teach at the two-week New Zealand Opera School at Wanganui Collegiate, was speaking candidly in a public conversation with fellow international opera performer and Baptist Church minister, Rodney McCann.

“I am as tough as I am today because from age 12, when I was at a convent school in Auckland, I was beaten by the nuns,” Dame Kiri told the audience at the Collegiate auditorium.

Some aspects of our society have changed markedly for the better in my lifetime. It would be unthinkable to hear of nuns beating children now.

Unfortunately some in our society continue perpetuating the violence they learnt as normal behaviour as children, and pass that on to their own children.

We have a long way to go before we can become relatively non-violent society.