Beethoven, Bach and Beyond
If you want to listen to classical music in Dallas-Fort Worth, chances are you turn to WRR 101.1 FM. But two former WRR employees are looking to provide another option with ClassicalRush, a soon-to-launch website devoted to connecting classical music fans around the area.
The site, which officially goes live on March 1, is the brainchild of founders Sarah Colmark, who was WRR's general manager from January 2012-September 2013, and Sheryl Powers, a former WRR account executive. Together, the two hope to give classical music lovers a new experience in their enjoyment of the genre.
The site essentially will be a free online radio station, complete with a curated set list handled by live announcers and interactive message boards.
The site essentially will be an online radio station, complete with a curated set list handled by live announcers. It will also be a place to discover the latest and greatest classical music news and events going on in the region.
"What we’re going to be doing is highlighting the music that’s coming up in the next couple of months, as well as highlighting other content and cultural events that are going on," Colmark says.
The site will be free to use, with funding coming from grants, donations and other sources. There will also be initial free memberships for which people can sign up, with paid memberships offering more perks coming in the future.
Additionally, interactive elements like message boards will allow users to provide feedback on what they like and don't like about the site. Colmark and Powers believe that once users have a chance to listen to the content and check out what else the site has to offer, they'll be hooked.
"What we hope is that people find a new, integrated way to experience classical music," Colmark says. "We also hope to provide a little more in-depth detail on the music, so you can be listening and you can see what’s being played and look around on the site and hopefully be able to talk about the music that we’re playing."
Music-wise, Colmark and Powers plan to populate the site with selections that they say will go beyond the traditional classical musical boundaries. As a digital entity, they'll have more freedom than terrestrial radio stations and will be able to take chances others cannot, including choosing songs to complement upcoming local events.
"Sarah and I settled in on what we thought was a new, fresh, more invigorated, inspired approach to providing classical music to the listener," Powers says. "This will be delivered on a platform that’s more consumable for today’s world by both the core classical listener and secondary audiences. We’re hoping to be that game-changer in how classical music is presented and received by today’s contemporary classical listener."
There will be some advertising on the music stream, but Colmark and Powers say it will limited in order to provide as clean a listening experience as possible. They decided to go with live announcers because they felt that sites like Pandora and Spotify weren't giving classical music fans what they needed.
"My experience is in order to really use Pandora with classical music, you have to know what you’re looking for," Colmark says. "Pandora and Spotify don’t go into real depth, and they don’t give you the variety of the music that’s out there."
If their gambit proves successful, Colmark and Powers will look to replicate the site in other markets. But first they want to make sure that Dallas-Fort Worth classical music fans feel that their needs are being met.
"The initial goal is obviously to re-stimulate classical music listening in the North Texas area," Powers says. "Between Fort Worth, Denton and Dallas, there’s so much going on that’s incredible. There’s a lot happening, but how do we really connect all of the dots for the listener?
"And that’s why Sarah and I said, 'Well, we think this is the answer.' It might not be the ultimate answer, but it’s a really good answer."