BEST CLASSICAL RADIO PROGRAM (1998)
Anyone who's suffered behind the microphone knows how hard it is to do good radio, to present a seamless audio picture in which the DJ plays the role of classy, informative, yet unobtrusive party host. It's a test the empty suburbanite chatterboxes (and part-time product shills) on MPR regularly flunk. For a wakeup that convinces you the world is worth sticking around for, try WCAL's Top of the Day. Were it not for erudite host Melissa Ousley, the list of local DJs who can offhandedly cite Kierkegaard and pronounce Bryn Terfel ("Brin Tairvall") correctly would intersect to form a null set. Ousley knows her stuff, relates it engagingly, and has crafted a program that weaves together music, news, and special features--including enterprising arts reporting--into one smooth ride. It's a civilized good morning from a station that might elect to adopt the slogan "Less Static, No Kling."