Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Classical WETA-FM (90.9) has decided to air opera year-round, expanding upon its current Saturday afternoon broadcasts of Metropolitan Opera performances during the December-May season, the Arlington public radio station said yesterday.

“Classical WETA Opera House,” debuting on May 12, will air productions from five major national companies, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera and, of course, the Washington National Opera. The program will air during the same slot as the Metropolitan broadcasts at 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

“Opera House” will kick off with a broadcast of Giacomo Puccini’s “Turandot” as performed by the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

In other classical news: Beginning this Sunday at 6 p.m., the station will broadcast the syndicated “From the Top” program showcasing young musicians.

Distributed by National Public Radio, the weekly program is carried by 250 stations nationwide and airs performances by young artists ranging in age from 9 to 18. The show also hosts global talents such as Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Bela Fleck and Bobby McFerrin.

This summer, Washington listeners will also have a chance to view a live taping of “From the Top” at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda on June 6.

In an unrelated announcement, the station’s morning man, David Ginder, apologized to WETA listeners yesterday for any inconveniences as the station replaced its transmission tower. During the process, the station had to switch to auxiliary power, which together with recent bouts of wind and rain can be problematic for some listeners.

Cox goes international

Cox Communications Inc. last week announced plans to offer a new tier of international programming for its digital cable customers in Fairfax County and the Fredericksburg area.

Available this summer, Cox’s free international tier will include content from Korean programmers tvK, Washington Korean TV and Korea 1, as well as pan-Asian ImaginAsian, CCTV-4 from China and eight MHz channels with Russian, Dutch and French offerings.

Northern Virginia is the first Cox market to roll out the new international tier, which Vice President and Region Manager Janet Barnard said “reflects the growing diversity of our customer base and our communities.”

Hot air times seven

For those with $35 and no other plans tonight, seven “radio celebrities” are going head-to-head at the DC Improv, battling for the title of “Funniest Radio Celebrity.”

The lineup: G. Gordon Liddy, “The G. Gordon Liddy Show”; Kirk McEwen, “KMS on HFS”; Mickey Cucchiella, “Mickey, Amelia and Spiegel”; Rob Carson from WRQX-FM (107.3); Chip Franklin, “The Chip Franklin Show”; Steve Medley, former co-host of “The Stevens and Medley Show”; and Rich Hunter from WTGB-FM (94.7).

Jim Bohannon is hosting the contest, which begins at 8 p.m. and features a video appearance from Doug “The Greaseman” Tracht.

Proceeds will benefit the Funniest Celebrity in Washington Charitable Fund Inc. and other charities identified by each radio station.

• Channel Surfing runs on Wednesdays. Call 202/636-3139 or e-mail krowland@washingtontimes.com.

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