The Maine Public Broadcasting Network will pursue plans to broadcast classical music on a separate, dedicated radio channel and will replace popular classical music radio host Suzanne Nance.

Nance announced her departure from the network last week. The new classical music channel, or dial position, would be separate from the MPBN radio channels carrying the network’s news and information programming. No date for the launch of the new channel has been announced.

Both plans were announced in a press release by MPBN on Thursday afternoon, less than a week after network president Mark Vogelzang said the future of classical music on MPBN was unclear. He said then it was possible the network could have one station dedicated to classical music. He also said at last week it was too early to tell if someone would be hired to take over Nance’s three-hour “Morning Classical” show.

Nance announced her departure for a commercial classical radio station in Chicago last week, and will stay with MPBN through August. Her departure caused some of the network’s classical music listeners to worry that classical music would eventually be phased out at MPBN.

In the network’s statement on Thursday, Vogelzang said the network would immediately launch a national search to find a replacement for Nance, someone who was an “experienced, on-air host with deep broadcasting and managerial experience.” He also said Nance’s replacement would  help MPBN plan the launching of a “separate, full-time music channel.” Other statements in the release refer to the channel as “classical.”

The release did not say when the channel might launch, only that its creation is part of MPBN’s 2013 to 2018 strategic plan. The network currently airs radio programming on seven  channels, or dial positions, statewide.

Vogelzang had said last week that  MPBN would be focusing on news and information while keeping its classical music presence, but said he wasn’t sure what form  that presence would  take, on air or online or some combination. But on Thursday his statement was clear that the present classical programming on MPBN would continue, as plans for a separate classical radio frequency go forward.

We will continue the current classical format on our existing signal while focusing our fundraising efforts to raise the support required for a new MPBN statewide signal dedicated to classical music and the arts,” said Vogelzang. “We realize how important this is to our dedicated listenership and seek an individual who can bring a real presence to classical music at MPBN and one who has the vision and experience to help us transition classical music to the new radio network.”

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com