As general manager of the WFMT Radio Network, Steve developed relationships in China that resulted in American programming being heard for the first time on Chinese radio stations. The programs were either produced and/or syndicated by the WFMT Radio Network and included concert broadcasts by the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin.
Steve also oversaw the production of programming from China that was distributed throughout the West, marking the first time these programs were ever heard on the radio in Western countries. They included programming from the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
Steve was assisted in these efforts by Jennifer Kwong (Jian Ping), a consultant specializing in helping American companies develop business relationships in China.
In recent years the growth of classical music in China has prompted many American orchestras to tour there and to establish long-term relationships with Chinese institutions, and brought a growing number of Chinese orchestras and soloists on tours to the United States.
Now the cultural exchange is coming to the radio dial: starting next month the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony will be broadcast on a weekly radio program in Shanghai, and programs from the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival will be broadcast next year on radio stations in the United States.
The radio partnership is the result of an agreement signed by the WFMT Radio Network, a major producer and distributor of classical programming that is based in Chicago, and the Shanghai East Radio Company. The American orchestras will be broadcast in Shanghai starting next month every Friday night, and programs recorded at the Shanghai festival, which is held in the spring, will be broadcast in the United States sometime next fall.
“American orchestras have been going to China for years, and Chinese orchestras have been coming here,’’ Steve Robinson, the general manager of the WFMT Radio Network, said in an interview. “But this uses the power of radio to bring these orchestras into people’s homes.”
The partnership is being sponsored by Abbott, a healthcare company that is based in Illinois, and which has its China headquarters in Shanghai.
Mr. Robinson said that the first of the American radio programs in Shanghai would feature Alan Gilbert conducting the New York Philharmonic in music of Haydn, Wagner and Christopher Rouse. The broadcasts will help raise the profile of the Philharmonic in Shanghai as it prepares for a residency there this summer that will include touring and teaching.
The programs from the Shanghai festival will be similar to the ones that the WFMT Radio Network does from the Salzburg Festival, Mr. Robinson said, and will feature performances and try to give listeners a sense of place. It is not yet clear which American stations would carry them.