2006December25 RadioFrance: Christmas on FranceMusique

Approximate Reading Time: 10 minutes


Sundown on Christmas Day, about 5pm. Why is it so green? That’s winter wheat, which is planted in autumn in this climate. It will be harvested some time in very late spring. The first real stirrings of spring occur in February. About the middle of that month, we’ll see blossoms on the almond trees—the ones that are left. Almost all of the almonds in this region and further north were eliminated in time. It used to be a significant crop. Still, the tender white blossoms of these trees are a reliable harbinger of spring. Way in the distance, on the left of the horizon, is Mont Ste. Michel, near Aix-en-Provence.

It’s clear enough that on Christmas morning, the inmates take over.

At least this is so on RadioFrance, France Musique, the classical music station throughout the country. It’s as if some ur public radio station had been decimated some time in the past, and the parts parceled out to different portions of the FM dial. FranceCulture features talk about the obvious. FranceInter, more of the same, with a thin line separating these two programming groups to this impaired francophone. Then there’s FranceInfo, and God knows what that is—though it seems to be news, weather and financial matters. FranceBleu is for the hoi polloi, interpolating nondescript French pop music with call-in shows that are localized so listeners can banter with the host and then offer something to sell, the asking price, and their phone number. It’s wildly popular.

France Musique is a throw-back, in this analogy, to the days of Boston FM radio of the 60s, which offered at least three professional FM stations playing classical music (and a modicum of jazz) around the clock: on the public station WGBH, and two commercial stations, the still extant CRB, and the now defunct outlet in the city of a fledgling network of concert music (with outlets as well in Hartford and Providence, and others planned before they all went bust—BCN [Boston Concert Network] is now, of course, a mélange of shock jock radio (and the station for Howard Stern before he was forced to decamp to the terrestrial orbit of satellite radio), New England Patriot game broadcasts, and the same old combination of fringe and golden oldie rock music.

Continue reading

rssrssby feather