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BBC Radio 3 pares back experimental and jazz shows in new schedule

Jazz and Late Junction scaled back and “classical music programme designed for late night listening” introduced

UK music and arts broadcaster Radio 3 has announced a new autumn schedule for the station that sees it scale back its engagement with experimental music and jazz and introduce extra classical music shows into its weekday evening programming.

According to a BBC blogpost written by Alan Davey, the station controller, two jazz shows will be “resting”: Jazz Now (which itself had replaced Jazz On 3 in 2017) and Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz.

Meanwhile, the longrunning Late Junction, dedicated to experimental and adventurous music and sound, which has been a fixture of the Radio 3’s late night weekday programming since the show launched in 1999, is being cut back to a single two hour show on Fridays.

In the blog post, Davey declares “From Monday to Wednesday in our After Dark zone we will establish a new classical music programme designed for late night listening.” The After Dark strand began in 2018 to explore “edgy free thought and mind-expanding ideas, of elegant and provoking essays, of poetry, of radical mixes in music.“ A new show Unclassified is being promoted, dedicated to a new generation of "composers and performers", and with a remit including “neo classical and ambient”.

The blog begins by noting reasons for the changes: “Some of the changes are brought on by opportunity and creative renewal – and some as a result of us having to play our part in finding the £800m of savings the BBC needs to make by 2021/22.”

Late Junction had recently debuted its first festival back in March, with performers such as This Is Not This Heat and Gazelle Twin appearing across two days at EartH in Hackney, East London.

Update: since the publication of this article an open letter has been published in The Guardian with over 500 signatures from musicians, critics, label owners and music programmers, including Shirley Collins, Charles Hayward, Stephen O’Malley, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Shabaka Hutchings and Brian Eno. A petition is also running via 38 Degrees.