Met returns to WBJC for another season


Do, re, mi, fa, so, la. . . . Yes, those opera voices are tuning up again, as the "Texaco-Metropolitan Opera" radio broadcast prepares for a 54th consecutive season.

The "Met Season Preview," a three-hour program highlighting the coming 20-week season, airs at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow on WBJC-FM (91.5), with host Robert Sherman, announcer Peter Allen and musical commentator George Jellinek.

The show includes interviews with Met artists Placido Domingo, Rosalind Elias, Thomas Hampson, James Morris, Luciano Pavarotti and Sharon Sweet.

"I would say it's one of our strongest programs, and has a very loyal following," says Carey Smith, general manager of WBJC, the classical station that has carried the Met broadcasts for almost 20 years.

He said the program, aired weekly at 1:30 p.m. Saturdays live from New York, not only records good ratings, but draws strong financial support from listeners during the station's semiannual fund drives.

The coming season includes five new productions and opens next week with the premiere of Antonin Dvorak's "Rusalka," the opera company's first production of a work by the Czech composer.

Here is the full schedule of operas for the season:

Dec. 11 -- "Rusalka" (Dvorak)

Dec. 18 -- "Fidelio" (Beethoven)

Dec. 25 -- "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" (Rossini)

Jan. 1 -- "Les Troyens" (Berlioz)

Jan. 8 -- "Madama Butterfly" (Puccini)

Jan. 15 -- "I Lombardi" (Verdi)

Jan. 22 -- "Electra" (R. Strauss)

Jan. 29 -- "Lucia di Lammermoor" (Donizetti)

Feb. 5 -- "Aida" (Verdi)

Feb. 12 -- "Le Nozze di Figaro" (Mozart)

Feb. 19 -- "La Fille du Regiment" (Donizetti)

Feb. 26 -- "Death in Venice" (Britten; 1 p.m.)

March 5 -- "Stiffelio" (Verdi)

March 12 -- "Dialogues of the Carmelites" (Poulenc)

March 19 -- "Adriana Lecouvreur" (Cilea)

March 26 -- "La Boheme" (Puccini)

April 2 -- "Otello" (Verdi)

April 9 -- "Der Fliegende Hollander" (Wagner)

April 16 -- "Tosca" (Puccini)

0 April 23 -- "Ariadne auf Naxos" (R. Strauss)

The music lingered on yesterday at WVRT-FM (104.3), but most employees of Variety 104 lost their jobs as the purchase of the station by the owner of rival WWMX-FM (106.5) was finalized.

"It's all over, we're out of the building," said John Pavlos, promotions manager of WVRT, shortly after noon yesterday, when officials of WWMX and Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc. took possession of the station, located at the base of Television Hill.

Only two of 23 WVRT employees, both technical staff members, were kept on by the new ownership. But the "continuous soft rock" sound of Variety 104, including promotional jingles and advertising, continued to be heard on the frequency.

Officials at WWMX had no comment yesterday on the sale or long-term format plans for the station.

"I have no idea what we're going to do," said Jim Fox, outgoing general manager of WVRT yesterday.

However, the departing employees said they understood the WVRT format will continue to be heard on an automated basis, without announcers, through the weekend. On Monday, the frequency is expected to temporarily begin a simulcast of WWMX-FM's "best variety of the '70s, '80s and '90s" format.

The conclusion of the sale marked the end of a decade in which WVRT, previously known as WBSB-FM, "B-104" and broadcasting a Top 40 format, at one time in the mid-1980s topped the local radio ratings.

In July, the E. W. Scripps Company, which announced this year it was selling its radio interests to concentrate on television, contracted to sell the Baltimore station to Capitol Broadcasting, which is based in Raleigh, N.C., for $9.75 million.

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