Classic Mornings

The Playlists Are Coming! The Playlists Are Coming!


I’d been telling listeners that soon we’d have the Classic Mornings playlists at our website. I’d been telling listeners that for at least a couple of years.  I’m sure many of them began to wonder. I’ll admit it has been a long process, involving Illinois Public Media and NPR Digital Services. When I was told the playlists were on the website last Monday, even I was pleasantly surprised.

There always have been playlists over the years.  It’s just that they never were published. In earlier times, they were hand-written on forms that were filed in an oversize binder. Anyone responding to listener inquiries could simply consult the binder. Back then the most serious technical problem associated with the playlists was illegible handwriting. Given that the entire FM staff was crammed into one large room back in Gregory Hall, using the percussive early model electric typewriter we had was frowned upon. Then came computers. The lists were typed and printed. They were filed in the same oversize binder. Eventually the binder disappeared as more employees got computers and digital storage space expanded.

About 2 years ago, when we began streaming, we were required to report to NPR the recording information for all music selections that we played. NPR provided a computer program for entering the data and for displaying it for listeners. The program has undergone some major changes since it was introduced. That has caused some major delays in making it possible for listeners to be able to view that information online. The good news is that we have participated in the process of developing the program. (I’m guessing NPR would describe that exchange of information in somewhat different terms.) Without a doubt, it’s a work in progress.

NPR is making use of the data base of, an online source for purchasing CDs. While we have access to that data in making the playlists, it doesn’t include the data for every recording we use. In those cases, we have to enter the information. I’m reminded daily that we have many recordings in the Friends of WILL Library that are no longer available. I let that serve as a little consolation each time I have to type an entire listing line by line.

A few words of advice: Some of the titles of the works I have played may be followed by a number and something like: “1. Allegro”  or  “2. Andante cantabile.”   When I play excerpts from a larger work, I identify the particular movement(s) or section(s) of the work by number, followed by the descriptive words you’ll find on the actual score of the work. Most CDs list those movements either on the back cover or in the enclosed booklet. In most cases those words describe the tempo of the movement and are in Italian, though not always. If you go searching online for the recording, particularly at a site that allows you to listen to sound samples, you often will find the larger works broken down into individual movements with those same descriptive words. Including those movement numbers and descriptions on the playlist is more helpful than simply indicating that I played an excerpt.thew 

When you search for recordings online, you may notice different CD numbers or record company names than those you find on our playlists. CDs are always being re-packaged and re-released. Record companies and their CD catalogues are being bought out by other companies. When in doubt, I enter the CD number of a recording as it exists in the Friends of WILL Library. The same recording may or may not be available or have the same CD number these days. The re-release may be on a compilation which includes selections from various recordings. It would take forever to search for the most up-to-date recording information for every selection I play. There’s a chance that older recordings – with the old numbers – will be available at some websites as used CDs. You might even prefer that if a selection, which once was on a single CD, now is part of a 10, 20 or even 71 CD set (as in the recent complete collection of James Galway recordings). Should I provide the new CD number for the complete set when you enjoyed a 3-minute piece that Sir James performed? 

Sometimes the NPR program doesn’t seem to transfer to the online playlists all the information we have entered. As I said, it’s a work in progress. For the most part, you do have the basic information – the title of the selection, performers, record company and CD number. If something is missing, a little searching online with the bits of information you do have will lead you to the rest. Be assured that you may contact us at any time for assistance. I’m happy to provide any information on selections I have played. I’ve been known to go on and on with listeners with more information than they even wanted. Stop me, whenever.

Though the listings look nice, they’re just the listings. They’re a tool to help you gather information about a selection that made your morning, or that you’re convinced has your name on it. They’re not a substitute for the music itself. From time to time I mention to listeners who join us in the middle of a program that they’ve missed some great music, even though there’s always more to come.  Now they can see what they’ve missed. It would be much better to view the listings as a souvenir of a Classic Morning, with those little pictures of CD cover art as commemorative stamps of sorts.

Join me for Classic Mornings, Monday through Friday from 9-noon, with the Classic Morning Prelude just before at 8:50, on FM 90.9 and online at