Meet Classical 94.5 WNED’s New Program Director Mark Edwards MichaudOriginally from northern Maine, Mark Edwards Michaud studied piano with McGill University while in high school and went on to be a music major at the University of Maine. He got the radio “bug” at a young age, and went on to program radio stations all over the country, in various formats.
He was able to bring his love of Classical Music to his career when he became Program Director and afternoon host at WCRB Boston. From there, he served at Kansas Public Radio, and most recently as Music Director at KUSC Los Angeles and KDFC San Francisco. He still enjoys singing recreationally, most recently with the Oakland Symphony Chorus.
What attracted you to this position?
I loved what I was doing in San Francisco and was not actively looking but I was intrigued.
I was serving as Music Director and, while I loved that role, I really missed programming a station— managing all aspects of the station. The Music Director executes the plan set forth by management; as Program Director, you are more actively involved in shaping the station-- the imaging, the overall sound and staff. It is more of a hands-on role that allows you to work more closely with the staff which is very exciting for me.
Also, my entire family –my parents and my brothers and their families--lives in Maine and this move brings me a lot closer to them. My high school years were spent in Montreal, so the proximity to Canada also appealed to me. Finally, the cost of living in the Bay Area was really prohibitive and it was very attractive to consider relocating to a more affordable city. So my partner Larry, our shih tzu Abby and 11-year-old cat Sophia and I were soon driving cross-country to settle in Western New York!
Kathryn Larsen, Sr Program Director for TV/Radio noted that you bring a great deal of classical music radio knowledge and experience and knowledge to this role.
Over the years I have learned something from each job I have had, most recently KDFC and KUSC, two of the largest and most successful classical stations in the country. KDFC made a transition from commercial radio to public broadcasting and was able to keep some of the things that had worked well—and the two together built on the best of both worlds to create something unique and special. WCRB in Boston was also a commercial classical station when I was there. They have since transitioned to public radio (now owned by WGBH) and are doing very well.
Had you been to Buffalo before coming here for your interviews?
“No, I had not. The day I landed for my interview was the day of that very snowy Buffalo Bills home game, so my friends were watching saying, ‘Are you sure about this?’ I was pleasantly surprised with the big city culture and beautiful architecture. And after living in Boston and San Francisco, I was thrilled to see traffic that actually moved!
It is exciting to have you joining us after we have celebrated the 40th anniversary of Classical WNED and are beginning our next chapter.
It is fantastic that the station has such heritage---these legacy stations are so important. We really need to preserve the history and build on it. The staff is very professional and, more importantly, passionate---you can’t teach passion.
Tell us a bit about the music that speaks to you. Favorite pieces, composers?
I like all kinds of music but over the years I have learned that it is wrong-headed to use your personal taste when programming. It is all about getting as many listeners as possible passionate about the station.
One of my favorite quotes is from Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra: “Everybody loves classical music. Many of them just don’t know about it yet.”
Being passionate about the music myself, I am looking forward to being on the air and sharing that passion with the listeners of WNED.
Kathleen Rizzo Young
This article appeared as a feature story in the March 2018 edition of the WNED | WBFO Magazine. The magazine is an exclusive Member benefit and your best way to stay up to date with what’s going on around our organization and what’s coming up on each of our stations. Sign up for the digital magazine and become a member today!