Young maestro to program WFMT

David Polk

David Polk

David Polk, the 30-year-old host and producer of an award-winning music series on WFMT FM 98.7, has been named program director of the classical music station.

Polk succeeds Peter van de Graaff, who served just one year as program director and now shifts to a new role as chief announcer. Both moves are effective Jan. 6.

Announcing the changes Thursday, Steve Robinson, executive vice president and general manager for radio at parent company Window to the World Communications, said they would “strengthen the station in immeasurable ways.”

In his statement, Robinson said: “Peter’s new function as chief announcer enables us to use his many years of experience at WFMT and vast knowledge of classical music to help us continuously improve our on-air sound. David’s promotion is very exciting — his reverence for WFMT’s history and accomplishments, combined with his passion for all things radio, will ensure that we continue to remain vital and relevant in an ever-changing media environment. WFMT must embrace new techniques for enlarging our audience, both in Chicago and, via the web and social media, around the world. Bringing David’s and Peter’s unique skills to these new roles will ensure that we continue to innovate and thrive for many years to come.”

Polk, a graduate of Tufts University who joined WFMT in 2006, will continue as host of “Introductions,” the weekly series he launched in 2008 to spotlight young classical musicians from the area. He previously worked for public radio WBUR in Cambridge, Mass., the Ravinia Festival, the U.S. Embassy in Paris and the Paris Orchestra.

In his new role, according to the station, Polk will develop new programming, oversee music selection and supervise on-air personnel and producers. He’ll also take charge of WFMT’s social media, serving as liaison with the organization’s web team on content for wfmt.com.

“I feel so fortunate to work at this station, and lucky to have arrived at a time that allowed me to meet and even work with some WFMT’s greats, including our incredible former program director Norm Pellegrini, the legendary Studs Terkel, and longtime host Andy Karzas,” Polk said in a statement. “I’m proud to be a part of this great radio tradition and honored to help carry it on into the future.”

As chief announcer, 26-year station veteran van de Graaff will coach on-air staff and continue to host both the Beethoven Satellite Network and Lyric Opera broadcasts. “Having missed being behind the microphone full-time this past year, I am looking forward to returning to what brought me to radio in the first place — announcing, and also to devoting more time to my singing career,” he said in a statement.

In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WFMT ranks 33rd in the market with a 0.7 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 231,300. In the same period last year, the station was tied for 29th with a 1.1 share and weekly cume of 235,500.