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Roll over, Beethoven. Moses has arrived Add to ...

But don't for a second suggest to Znaimer that his new digs are stodgy or sedate. The advertising community infuriates him because it insists on viewing classical music as the realm of doddering old fools.

"Where does this idea come from [in the ad world]that when you hit age 50, you somehow die," Znaimer asks. "I'm Moses Znaimer sitting in a rocking chair, chewing my gums, waiting for my pension cheque to buy my dog food? It's so bizarre and misplaced."

It makes him madder still that Classical 96.3's core listening audience contains the captains of industry running huge ad houses and laying down the rigid rules that only the young 18-to-35 demographic matters.

"You have to wonder about industry leaders who deny their own experience. You have to be pretty alienated from yourself," he fumes. "The reality is our core listeners are at the peak of their careers, living larger, living well, on second and third marriages, spending like crazy on travel, on things related to health and well-being, and on whimsy.

"Our main challenge here at Classical 96.3 is to open [advertisers']eyes to the truth. And get rid of the notion that classical music is for ancients."

He might have a point. Over at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, 15 to 20 per cent of regular concert sales go to people under the age of 30 -- a large jump from under 1 per cent only five years ago.

Well-programmed, Media Mix's Janik believes classical radio has the "capacity of being very strong in the 25-to-65 age group, with the heart [of the audience]being 50 to 60.

"The sound of the station fills a mood service of calm and relaxing, which is important to people today, with busy lifestyles and all," she adds.

Znaimer bought Classical 96.3 from Trumar Communications, owned by Martin and Truus Rosenthal. He got Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approval in the summer and now has an application before the federal regulator for a digital classical video channel.

He's hired veteran radio man George Grant (who worked at CITY-TV the first year it opened, has been in radio 42 years, including a stint as general manager of CHFI, and was part-owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats) to be CEO of the radio division of MZ Media.

Recently, there have been rumours that former Sony Music Canada president Denise Donlon -- who launched MuchMusic for Znaimer and recently organized the star-studded birthday party at the Fairmont Royal York for former U.S. president Bill Clinton during the Toronto International Film Festival last month -- is being courted to join the Classical 96.3 team.

Znaimer wouldn't comment, but Donlon was front and centre at the Andsnes concert. And she stayed for the gourmet brie-and-black-angus-beef sandwiches. And while some staffers at the FM station may have, at first, been skeptical about Znaimer and his real motivation for buying 96.3 -- his enthusiasm for the genre has now won them over.

As Louise Thomas, the radio station's veteran office manager puts it: "Any change makes people nervous. But Moses's reputation precedes him as taking little, and making big."

Classic Moses

A life-long passion for broadcasting starts in the early 1960s when Moses Znaimer joins the CBC. He becomes one of creators of CBC Radio's Cross Country Checkup, as well as co-host of CBC-TV's Take 30 with Adrienne Clarkson.

In early 1970s, he and partners are awarded Toronto's first UHF broadcasting licence on Channel 79. CITY-TV launches in 1972 and changes to Channel 57 in 1983.

Toronto media conglomerate CHUM Inc. buys CITY-TV in 1981. Znaimer is made vice-president of CHUM and oversees all of CITY's programming. He launches 24-hour music-video station MuchMusic in 1984, a revolutionary step in Canadian television.

Through the 1990s, Znaimer is the colourful face presiding over the rapidly expanding CHUM/CITY-TV empire, which comes to include channels such as Bravo!, Space: The Imagination Station and North America's first 24-hour local news station, CablePulse 24 -- to name a few.

Znaimer resigns from CITY-TV and CHUM in spring of 2003.

In 2001, he launches ideaCity, his version of an annual intellectual festival in California called the TED Conference. By 2006, ideaCity has 500 attendees and 50 speakers.

In 2006, Cannasat Therapeutics, a company pioneering a new class of drugs from marijuana, goes public. The chair of Cannasat is Znaimer, who owns 5 per cent of the company. This year, Znaimer is also executive producer of an English-language version of the Quebec comedy Rumours for CBC.

In mid-September, 2006, Znaimer gets the keys to Classical 96.3 FM. Will the genteel world of classical music ever be the same? Can a supersized Stradivarius sculpture -- similar to the jeep that blasts out a brick wall outside CITY-TV headquarters -- be far behind?

-- G.M.

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