Colorado Public Radio and Colorado Symphony renew broadcast deal after hiatus

Colorado Symphony Christmas Concert
A scene from the Colorado Symphony's Christmas Concert. (Photo Courtesy of Colorado Symphony)

After ending a 15-year broadcast partnership in November, Colorado Public Radio and the Colorado Symphony have negotiated a new informal deal.

CPR Classical announced this week it will broadcast four Colorado Symphony concerts -- three live performances and one recorded -- this spring.

“We just continued informal talks and at the most recent one decided to go back to working together,” said Sean Nethery, CPR’s senior vice president of programming. “The Colorado Symphony is an essential part of the cultural community in Colorado and we want to continue providing this around the state.”

The recent separation came after disagreements over the organizations' underwriting partnership and the broadcasting of Symphony-related content on CPR Classical's airwaves.

Colorado Symphony CEO Jerry Kern told CPR in November the pre-existing agreement was outdated. Kern said he wanted increasingly bilateral terms, including more control over editorial decisions and compensation for exclusive rights to broadcast concerts.

The Symphony and CPR Classical came up with a new deal that has similar terms to the previous agreements, but with no long-term commitment on either side.

"We’re very happy to have our product back on CPR," Kern said. "A lot of our core audience also listens to CPR, and we don’t want to deprive them of the opportunity to hear our music."

The Symphony has not renewed its underwriting contributions to CPR. The organization reported spending at least $50,000 a year for underwriting, but stopped payments on Nov. 30. Nethery has said underwriting agreements have no bearing on programming.

Meanwhile, the Symphony this week unveiled its own streaming service, Soundings Live.

"We’re committed to pursuing new ways of distributing our music and ultimately to create revenue streams from that distribution," Kern said. "Life is going to change, distribution is going to change and orchestras change all the time."

Nethery said the renewed collaboration will have little impact on its commitment to new partners like the Aspen Music Festival and the Boulder Philharmonic.

“The bottom line is we’re actually doing more live broadcasts than ever before,” Nethery said.