Sunday, June 24th, 2018

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WCLV’s ‘Queen of the Morn’ rouses NE Ohio listeners with style

By Linda McMullen

Jacqueline Gerber

The self-proclaimed “Queen of the Morn” on WCLV 104.9 FM is anything but a stuffed-shirt stereotype of a classical music station announcer. Thank heavens!

When Jacqueline Gerber dons her headphones in the “Radioquarium” studio downtown, she kicks off listeners’ days with wit, charm and sass.

Tune in between 6 and 10 a.m. and you can open your eyes to gentle reminders that WCLV is now a part of Ideastream and a listener-supported station. Rather than commercials for hair removal services, off-color jokes or pounding pop music, your body can ease into the day on the strains of Mozart or Debussy. Need more oomph? Set your alarm at 6:55 a.m. for Gerber’s up-and-at-’em “SousAlarm.”

It doesn’t matter if I’m a morning person or not,” she laughed. “I get up at 2:30 a.m. and get to work because there’s a job to be done.” A job she loves, even though, with pre-show prep and all, she likens the activity to “trying to hold a conversation while diapering triplets.”

Morning drive time means essential and frequent traffic and weather reports. Even here, you get a dose of wit as the “the Pollyanna of the Pavement” dons her “traffic tiara” to report on the “water main break du jour” and tie-ups on “the hypotenuse” (I-71 between 480 and Downtown).

“There’s a lot of technical stuff to do.” You try to be entertaining as well as informative. It’s really an art form, pulling it all together.” Just think about it from a pronunciation standpoint. Can you imagine your typical pop DJ accurately rattling off Shostakovich, Turandot and Sergiu Celibidache?

Thanks to the Internet and streaming media, “WCLV’s competition is now the whole world.” So there’s a good deal of salesmanship involved in presenting a morning radio show. “Radio is ethereal; people turn it on and off many times a day.

“Classical music requires a specialized knowledge,” Gerber said, that she finds inherently interesting and challenging. Just because the music is often 200 years old does not mean her resources are. “The most current is the best,” she said. “Facebook, Twitter…I look everywhere for information.”

The Illinois native believes Cleveland audiences are unique. “Here, people live the music.” And that is noticed by the many world-famous artists who come to Northeast Ohio to perform. “They find musically sophisticated audiences who understand the value of music.” She told me the story of an area couple attending a concert at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Talking to the gentleman next to him, the husband said they were from Cleveland. “Oh,” said the New Yorker. “You’re slumming.”

(Although she did tell me she actually had a “rather snooty-sounding” caller request no more Sousa, as “marches are not real music.” The Queen of the Morn, of course, ended her show with one particularly rousing march dedicated to that individual)

“Our music may be grand, but I don’t want to become mired in technique, she said with a smile. “I’m always looking for ways to have fun.”


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