For Immediate Release
Contact: Kristin Tutino, (585) 258-0253


Rochester, New York, December 21, 2006 – WXXI Public Broadcasting announced today that it is the recipient of a $165,000 grant from The New York State Music Fund (“The Fund”) that will enable the station to expand its Classical 91.5 FM radio series, Backstage Pass, to include television programs. The Backstage Pass project is designed to heighten awareness of local artists, foster appreciation for a variety of musical styles, and provide a “backstage glimpse” of artists’ motivation and inspiration to a broad audience through television, radio and the Web.

“As one of the last independently owned and operated stations in the market, WXXI sees the arts as one of Rochester's greatest assets,” said WXXI President & CEO Norm Silverstein. “This grant will help support one of our major initiatives in 2007 – to spotlight the great talent we have in our region. WXXI will be one of the few places in Rochester where local artists and their music will have access to a TV audience.”

Backstage Pass
will invite a variety of performers into WXXI’s studios or on-site at local venues to capture their performances on camera. Those recorded performances will be coupled with artist interviews to create an hour-long, twice-monthly series for television, radio, and the Web. WXXI plans to produce several episodes of Backstage Pass in partnership with the Rochester International Jazz Festival, representing a variety of music genres. WXXI will offer the series to all public television stations in New York State, broadening the project’s impact and Rochester’s musical imprint even further.
“WXXI is the Rochester area’s leading creator of local programming and content across media platforms,” said Silverstein. “This New York State Music Fund grant will allow us to serve our audiences with a wide variety of musical styles, including roots rock, country, jazz, rockabilly, and classical.”

In its effort to be a community leader on this front, WXXI continues to provide extensive coverageof the arts on its radio and television stations. In May 2006 Backstage Pass premiered onClassical 91.5 FM as a local classical music project. Its goal was to bring live performance back to the airwaves. Since its launch, the monthly radio series has featured some of the best performers in the region, from the RPO to Glimmerglass Opera. In addition, Arts Friday, which spotlights the arts and vibrant cultural life in Rochester, remains a regular feature on AM 1370’s 1370 Connection and on WXXI-TV’s Need to Know.

The New York State Music Fund was created when the New York State Attorney General’s Office resolved investigations against major record companies that had violated state and federal laws prohibiting “pay for play” (also called “payola”). The settlement agreement stipulated that funds paid by music businesses would support music education and appreciation for the benefit of New York State residents. The Attorney General’s Office enlisted the services of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, one of the nation’s largest and most experienced philanthropy services, to develop and manage the grant program.

The fund published guidelines and criteria and accepted grant applications in a number of categories, including music education and public performances of music by artists working in hip hop, reggae, fusion, jazz, classical and folk music of all cultures.  Applications related to recording, distribution, or broadcast through traditional or new media were also eligible. Special emphasis was placed on reaching underserved populations and broadening awareness of artists, genres or styles with limited access to commercial broadcast or other mass distribution vehicles.

An Advisory Panel comprised of recognized leaders from a cross-section of the music world evaluated and recommended applications based on criteria focusing on artistic merit and community impact, and recommended 218 of 402 applications the Fund received for its second cycle.


WXXI is the essential, life-long educational media resource for the Greater Rochester area. WXXI puts the community first with programming that stimulates and expands thought, inspires the spirit, opens cultural horizons and promotes understanding of diverse community issues. Log on to for more information about our services and programs.

# # #

Press Release Index