2008-01-24 / News

Radio host shares classical world of music

By Michaela Kennedy

Robert Kinzel Robert Kinzel Disc jockey Robert Kinzel stands smiling in his study, a home workshop lined with walls of vinyl, tape and compact disc recordings. He barely has space to move, but the extensive archive offers plenty of delights to play for his longrunning classical music show on the University of Rhode Island's campus radio station, WRIU.

More than 16 years after his first interview with the Press, Kinzel continues to bring sweet tunes to the airwaves of Newport and South Counties. His show, "Divertimento Classical Waves from the Ocean State," airs alternate Tuesday mornings, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. "I have so much music to choose from that I never play the same piece twice," he says.

In a previous incarnation, Kinzel baked stone ground breads on the island in the late 1980s. His company, Our Daily Bread, was located in the now defunct building that later housed the recreation and planning departments on West Street. He leased the space for his bakery until the town decided to take back the property. Kinzel started a new bakery with a partner, but became a victim of the credit union crisis in 1992. "Our seed money was tied up in the credit union for months," he reflects.

Kinzel gave up his baking career,

but his work in providing music to the state has thrived. In addition

to his radio show, he enjoys a lighter side of life working in sales at Wakefield Music Company in South Kingstown.

Kinzel remembers his early days at WRIU when Hamilton Webb, a local clock repairman and part-time DJ, broke him into the business of airing a radio show. "Hamilton Webb taught me the question, can you tell if someone is smiling when they are talking?" Kinzel relates the story of how Webb stood behind him and spoke some phrases. Webb told him, "I'll only say them once, but for one of them I'll be smiling." Kinzel recalls picking up the words with the smile immediately. The tip gave him the insight needed for a successful show. "I never sit down during my show," he adds as he stands up to demonstrate the richer quality of his voice without a chair.

Through his volunteer work on the campus radio station, Kinzel became acquainted with David Kim, the founder and artistic director for the Kingston Chamber Music Festival. Kinzel has been working with Kim ever since to help publicize the summer event. The festival is co-sponsored with WCRI, a Westerly-based classical music station. "I script radio ads at their production studio," he notes. Kinzel has been on the board of directors for the music festival at URI for well over 10 years now.

Kinzel also helps to get the word out about the Schools Outreach Program, founded by Kim two years after the debut of the chamber music festival. Last week, two musicians associated with the festival, violinist Burchard Tang and cellist Priscilla Lee, visited Melrose Avenue School for a morning of classical music fun. "I talk about it on my show," Kinzel said.

The festival will celebrate its 20 years of classical concerts this coming July, thanks to the generous donations of local patrons and classical music lovers. Islandbased BankNewport, Stearns Farm and Trattoria Simpatico are listed with the philanthropic supporters that help to make the concert series possible.

Kinzel never knows for sure who his listeners are until he runs contests or ticket giveaways on air. The classical spin doctor has offered free concert tickets for the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the Newport Music Festival and the Kingston festival, to name a few. He enjoys talking with listeners, and encourages phone calls to the station at 792-9030. Listeners can also tune in online at wriu.org.

For more information about the summer music festival, donations to the public broadcasting service or chats about classical music, Kinzel can be reached at odbbob@ earthlink.net.

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