(New York, NY – December 2, 2021) – WQXR, New York’s only all-classical radio station, will mark 85 years of bringing comfort and inspiration, joy and passion through music on Friday, December 3, 2021. To celebrate the occasion, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared the date to be WQXR Day in recognition. 

“On the occasion of its 85th Anniversary, I am pleased to recognize WQXR for its tremendous contributions to our city’s dynamic cultural landscape,” Mayor de Blasio’s proclamation reads in part. “I am proud to join in applauding its knowledgeable program hosts and producers, its generous supporters, and everyone associated with this acclaimed New York City institution for their efforts to enrich our performing arts sector, strengthen our vital creative community, and share the joys of classical music with New Yorkers of all backgrounds. Together, we are forging a brighter, more harmonious future for all.”

WQXR will be celebrating this anniversary with special programming, one-of-a-kind live concerts, and more. These include: 

  • Anniversary messages from WQXR’s most loyal listeners and celebrities, including Marin Alsop, Joshua Bell, Davóne Tines and Itzhak Perlman 
  • A recreation of WQXR’s first playlist, featuring the same performances of the same works, in the same order as they were played in 1936
  • Great Moments in WQXR History featured every hour throughout the weekend
  • A return of the live Saturday matinee Metropolitan Opera broadcasts with the New York premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s Eurydice. Saturday, December 4 at 1 pm EST

On Sunday, December 5 at 2 PM ET, WQXR is also hosting an 85th Anniversary concert live from The Greene Space, honoring the station’s past, spotlighting performers who are part of today’s WQXR family, and premiering commissions that reflect the future. Hosted by John Schaefer Jeff Spurgeon, and featuring performances from: pianist Simone DinnersteinThe Knights, who will premiere a new arrangement of a work by Angélica Negrón; and WQXR Artist Propulsion Lab member mezzo-soprano Kara Dugan, performing “In a New York Minute: Miniatures for Voice and Piano,” a piece for which she commissioned five female composers to set texts by New York City poets to music.

At wqxr.org, listeners can access a host of material on the history of WQXR, stretching from today back to its founding in 1936.  These include: an interactive digital Timeline of the station’s 85-year history; a voluminous archive of WQXR’s past shows and specials, including The Vocal SceneThis is My Music and The Listening Room; anniversary greetings and radio memories from fellow listeners; and photos and memorabilia from the archive will also be shared throughout the weekend over social media.

“It is an honor to serve music lovers in New York and beyond through our many platforms: radio, digital streams, podcasts, and live events.” commented WQXR’s Chief Content Officer Ed Yim.  “Even as technology evolves, our mission remains constant: to serve our large and loyal audience, but also to help new listeners fall in love with the joy of music.  Our 85th birthday weekend shows how we have been doing that for many generations while our plans to grow and diversify our audience, to nurture the next generation of music lovers, and to be an essential partner to New York’s cultural community reflect our commitment to serve our mission for the next 85 years and beyond.” 


A Brief History of WQXR
The nation’s first commercial classical radio station began in 1936 when W2XR owner and founder John Hogan joined with advertising executive Elliott Sanger to create the Interstate Broadcasting Company. The company’s chief asset was W2XR.  In December 1936, W2XR’s call letters were changed to WQXR. The FM station signed on in 1939 and both were sold to The New York Times Company in 1944. The Times Company completed the sale of the AM station to Radio Disney in 2007.  The sale of WQXR-FM to WNYC was approved by the FCC on September 8, 2009 in a multipart deal including Univision, which closed on October 8, 2009. On July 29, 2013 WQXR completed purchase of a repeater station located in Ossining, NY. The new station with call letters WQXW broadcasts WQXR to Westchester Country. 

WQXR is New York City’s only all-classical music station, immersing listeners in the city’s rich musical life on-air at 105.9FM, online at WQXR.org, and in person through live events and performances. WQXR presents new and landmark classical recordings, as well as live concerts from New York City’s concert halls and performance venues, and broadcasts essential destination programs including Carnegie Hall Live, Metropolitan Opera Saturday Matinee Broadcasts, New York Philharmonic This Week, New York in Concert, This Week with Yannick, and the Young Artists Showcase. WQXR also produces podcasts that reach new audiences for the artform: The Open Ears Project, Helga: The Armory Conversations in partnership with the Park Avenue Armory,  and—in partnership with the Metropolitan Opera—the critically acclaimed opera podcast, Aria Code. As a public radio station, WQXR is supported through the generosity of its members, donors, and sponsors, making classical music relevant, accessible, and inspiring for all.