Classic Mornings

Perpetual Mention


This might come as a complete shock. But I have to tell you that you might never have heard me hosting classical music on WILL-FM.

Yes, it’s true. And instead, you might have heard me interviewed now and then on a news program or perhaps Science Friday

Once upon a time in high school physics class, we were challenged to come up with a design for a perpetual motion machine. Simply said, a successful machine is one that, in theory, would never stop after it’s activated.

As soon as I managed to get my imagination rolling, the thought process was rather non-stop. But thoughts are not objects.  So they don’t qualify for perpetual motion. And even thoughts get derailed or interrupted regularly.

Anyway, I came up with an idea, inspired by various household and leisure activity items. I was rather pleased with it, though I have to admit, I really hadn’t examined thoroughly my assumptions, the materials I planned to use, or all of the physics involved.

Nevertheless, when I presented it, my high school physics teacher actually paused and let out a  “wait a minute!” as he began to ponder my proposal. With that, there was a bit of a cheer that went up in the classroom. Call it a touch of perpetual commotion if you’d like. That moment was my Nobel Prize of sorts that I’ve cherished to this day! It was to be my 30 seconds in the science spotlight. 

During the next several minutes, holes were poked into my design and my physics fantasy came to a screeching halt. I came to understand that the concept of perpetual motion wasn’t going anywhere with my idea, yet my teacher was impressed with the wheels of thought that had taken us all for a little spin.

I’m reminded about that incident whenever I play one of those classical music pieces named for perpetual motion like Nicoló Paganini’s Moto Perpetuo for violin and orchestra, Johann Strauss, Jr.’s Perpetuum Mobile and Francis Poulenc’s Trois mouvement perpétuels for piano. They’re fun pieces that give the impression of going on and on. Yet strings break, pianos go out of tune, fingers cramp up, etc. I don’t think Paganini, Strauss or Poulenc were looking beyond amusement when they were inspired by the idea of perpetual motion.

An amusing thought came to mind during our December mini-fund drive: the idea of “perpetual mention.”   Ever since WILL-FM began to broadcast classical music, listeners have mentioned over and over again how much they’ve appreciated having that music on the radio in central Illinois. Their appreciation has led to generous support year after year.  In turn, those of us at WILL-FM haven’t stopped mentioning how grateful we are for the contributions of listeners. And it’s made us want to continue to present the best in classical music.

Now that the process has been set in motion, it really looks like it’ll continue on and on!  There’s nothing mechanical about it.  Listeners are excited about having classical music in the community for themselves and others. And they’re just as excited to be a part of making that happen. It’s a choice they continue to make.  That has sparked a music service that’s taken its place among the cultural treasures of the community, enticing new listeners and contributors all the time. It’s too bad my high school physics teacher isn’t around anymore. I’d love to run this one by him.

Thank you for your suppport during the past year! If you haven’t had the chance to make a contribution, please consider doing so by December 31st.  You may contribute online at or by calling 217-244-9455.