In a major switch of personalities at KUSC-FM (91.5), morning host Bonnie Grice will move to the station's afternoon-drive "Commuter Classics" Aug. 2, taking the place of Rebecca Davis, who is leaving to pursue her career as a concert pianist.
The station insists that the changeover has nothing to do with Grice's chatty conversational style and that it is certainly not bowing to pressure from some classicists who consider the morning host, as a librarian recently put it, "too young, too cutesy, a little too casual." The station has promoted Grice's "wry humor and obvious joy in music" as an "infectious waker-upper" and says she eschews a " 'stuffed-shirt' approach to music."
Grice's arrival in November, 1989, from Kent, Ohio, essentially coincided with KUSC's switch in format from traditional classical, with a minimum of introductory fuss, to more personality-directed conversation by the hosts and the addition of music by contemporary artists. The idea, according to KUSC's management, was to make classical music more accessible and to expand its appreciation by the general audience. Grice became a focal point of anger from many loyal listeners.
"For a long time, she (Grice) has wanted to have a life," explained Dete Hultmark, KUSC's vice president of corporate affairs, pointing out that she had to get up weekdays at 3 a.m. to be on the air from 6-10 a.m. The afternoon show airs from 3-6 p.m.
Hultmark said that Grice's style will stay very much the same: "Most of what she's been doing in the morning will be continued in the afternoon."
She said that Grice has been seeking another role at the station for some time and that, once Davis decided to leave, it made sense to make the shift.
While "The Morning Program" is temporarily being hosted by Bruce Langford, a national search is being conducted for a permanent replacement for Grice, Hultmark said. She insisted that the show would continue in its current style and format.
Grice could not be reached for comment. She and her husband, Wally Smith, who is KUSC's president and general manager, were in Cleveland shepherding the opening of the opera "Mrs. Dalloway," based on a Virginia Woolf novel, which had its premiere last Thursday night at the Cleveland Institute of Music. The opera was conceived by Grice in 1981 and is her first libretto. Libby Larsen of Minneapolis is the composer.
Davis, who has been with KUSC since last November, said she has been discussing moving out of her regular slot since the spring.
"It's just been too much . My concert career is taking off," she said with obvious delight. But she is not leaving KUSC cold. "I will be doing substitute hosting and special programming. Before Wally even hired me, he knew my first love is piano. And if I had to choose between radio and piano, I choose piano."