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NEPM strengthens news and classical radio programming

Aug. 30, 2023, SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — New England Public Media (NEPM) is strengthening both its news and classical radio offerings next week, bringing all day news with an increased focus on local stories to the western Massachusetts community, and launching Classical NEPM, a new service that will triple the amount of classical music presented by NEPM.

Beginning Monday, Sept. 4, 2023, NEPM’s main broadcast signal, 88.5 FM, will carry news programming throughout the day, anchored by NPR shows “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered,” along with “The Fabulous 413,” NEPM’s new locally-produced show about life in western Mass. Other popular public radio news programs like “1A,” “On Point” and “Fresh Air” will be part of the daytime schedule.

“These moves position NEPM to better serve western Massachusetts with journalism and conversations that create connections across our wonderfully diverse communities,” NEPM President Matt Abramovitz said. “That investment in local storytelling will also fuel upcoming multi-platform initiatives to reach new, diverse audiences. At the same time, we are bringing a full-time classical service to the region.”

The launch of an all-day news station comes with an increased focus on local news. Immediately, 88.5 FM will begin airing a daily local newscast at noon alongside NPR’s “Here and Now.” Later in September, 88.5 FM will expand “The Fabulous 413,” by featuring the best episode of the week on Saturdays at 11 a.m. following NPR’s popular “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!”

In the upcoming election season, NEPM News will renew its focus on local campaigns, covering both key local and regional races, hosting candidate roundtables and providing live election night coverage.

NEPM will build on existing collaborations between NEPM News and other local journalism organizations. Through internal collaborations with Valley Voices Story Slam and NEPM Media Lab, NEPM News will increase the number and variety of local voices heard during “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”

Finally, early in 2024, NEPM News will launch a weekly news-in-review roundtable on 88.5 FM again, bringing more trusted local news to our listeners.

While moving 88.5 FM to an all-day news station, NEPM will simultaneously launch Classical NEPM, bringing three times more music to classical music fans via the former NEPM News Network stations. Hosts John Nowacki, Steve Petke, and Jon Solins will continue to bring locally-produced programming to the classical audience. Classical NEPM will also broadcast local favorites such as live broadcasts from Tanglewood and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, while broadening the repertoire with new programs including “Performance Today,” “Symphony Cast” and the “New York Philharmonic This Week."

Classical NEPM will air on four local stations: 91.9 FM in Hampden County, 91.7 FM in Franklin County, 89.5 FM in Southern Berkshire County, 98.9 FM in Northern Berkshire County, and on 89.3 FM in Hampshire County when Amherst College student programming is not on the air. Classical NEPM will also be streaming via smart speaker and at classicalnepm.org, as well as 88.5 FM HD-2. And, later in September, NEPM will launch a new classical music app.

NEPM’s signature jazz show, “Jazz à la Mode,” will remain on 88.5 FM in the evenings. The weekends will feature a mix of public radio news, cultural, and entertainment programs, with music in the evenings including NEPM’s “Jazz Safari with Kari Njiiri” and “Tertulia with Raquel Obregon.”

“We’re eager to see NEPM realize the full potential of this new service,” said Paul Lambert, president and CEO of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. “This is a time of critical change in the industry and for the station and its many devoted classical listeners. Western Massachusetts has never had a dedicated, 24/7 classical music option on the radio. So, while change can be difficult, I’m looking forward to this next chapter for NEPM and our community.”

The move to position its flagship station as a news service came after extensive research and evaluation of NEPM's service to western Massachusetts, how it is used, and how it can be improved.

“Our most recent evaluation — which included surveys, a listening tour, and a review of audience trends — pointed to a growing need for a stronger news service,” Abramovitz said. “That evaluation showed that splitting the daytime hours on 88.5 FM between news and classical music was not serving either audience very well. By creating an all-day news service on 88.5 FM and launching Classical NEPM, we are creating a more consistent listening experience for each audience.”

88.5 NEPM
NPR and local perspective for western Mass.

88.5 FM in western Mass.
101.1 FM in North Adams
98.7 FM in Great Barrington
98.3 FM in Lee
106.1 FM in Pittsfield / Lenox
96.3 FM in Williamstown
640 AM in western Mass.

Classical NEPM
Classical music for western Mass.

91.9 FM in Hampden County
89.3 FM in Hampshire County*
91.7 FM in Franklin County
89.5 FM in South Berkshires
98.9 FM in North Berkshires
WFCR 88.5 HD-2

*When Amherst College student programming is not on the air.


New England Public Media (NEPM) is a community-supported, independent non-profit organization based in Springfield, Massachusetts. Through a deep commitment to independent local journalism, trusted educational content, inspired cultural offerings, and civic engagement, NEPM endeavors to share new voices and inspire new conversations. It provides audiences with a broad array of local and national programs across all media —TV, radio, online, and mobile, including PBS and NPR programs as well as locally produced series, podcasts and specials. Its four digital TV channels, and two radio networks present news, jazz and classical music, documentaries, talk, drama, plus cultural and educational programming.

For more information, visit nepm.org or follow NEPM on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


Vanessa Cerillo
Senior Director, Marketing, Communications and Events
New England Public Media