Music Through the Night
Music Through the Night is a classical music radio program produced by American Public Media and distributed by Public Radio International, and broadcast on many National Public Radio (NPR) stations (as well as several classical music stations which may or may not be NPR member stations) through the overnight hours, which is a time period when radio stations traditionally went off the air.
According to a Time Magazine article first published in 1952, Music Through the Night got its original incarnation when Civil Defense authorities asked Ted Cott of Manhattan's WNBC radio to keep a radio tone signal playing all night so as to be immediately able to send out important public announcements. He elected to try an all-classical music program instead, and the program proved popular.
Today's incarnation is provided by Classical 24 and is hosted primarily by Minnesota Public Radio's Bob Christiansen, Alison Young, Ward Jacobson, and Scott Blankenship, among others. According to promotional materials, "Seven days a week, this program offers a choice of music and style of presentation perfectly suited for through-the-night listening. The program mixes standard repertoire with the finest works by lesser-known composers to lend perspective to major musical figures." The all-day Classical 24 format generally follows the Music Through the Night format with some modifications.
The program begins each hour with a brief introduction by the host to the featured musical selection (which can run up to 10 minutes or longer) to be played later during the hour. A shorter musical selection follows for five minutes (a few stations pre-empt this for the standard top-of-the-hour NPR newscast), and then four, five or six other selections, one or two of these being the featured selection(s) of the hour, which are longer in duration. A shorter selection often concludes the hour.
The host briefly introduces each selection, stating the name of the piece, its composer, the orchestra (and/or soloist if applicable) and conductor of the selection, and sometimes providing a brief anecdotal and/or historical note of interest about the piece and/or the composer.
Before some of the pieces, a brief pre-recorded "sound bite" interview with the composer, conductor or principal soloist of that piece is introduced by the host, to give some perspective on the selection being played.
The host will sometimes read one or two brief national, international and/or business news headlines in between selections, especially towards the top of the hour, and as the morning hours approach (in the Eastern time zone). At the top of the 6 a.m. hour (Central time), the 60-second program Composers Datebook, hosted by John Zech (pre-recorded and syndicated separately by American Public Media), is played as part of the Music Through the Night/Classical 24 playlist for the hour.
Different affiliates end their Music Through the Night coverage at slightly varied times in the morning to begin their broadcast day with local announcers; a handful present the entire Classical 24 schedule, including Music Through the Night, with no local hosts.
While works from Modern and even a few contemporary composers are presented, most of the programming typically specializes in Classical and Romantic composition; while music from these periods is available on daytime programming in some markets, few shows specialize like Music Through the Night.