The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra’s final concert of last season, an all-Brahms program in April, was heard by far more people than can fit into the Michigan Theater. Michigan State’s public radio station, WKAR, carried the concert live and rebroadcast it a few days later. Detroit Public Schools station WRCJ beamed a recording of it twice.

“If your product is sound, what better way to get that message out?” asks Mary Steffek Blaske, the AASO’s executive director. “Hats off to our musicians … for exposing people to great classical music.”

“A few contracts ago, we put in language broadening which local stations would be eligible to use our broadcasts at no charge,” explains Barbara Zmich, secretary-treasurer of the Ann Arbor Federation of Musicians and a violist in the symphony. “We realized how important it is for promoting the orchestra, and we’ve been waiting for the stations to take the bait.”

“When I came to WKAR in 2012, it was our desire to produce and broadcast more local programming,” says Peter Whorf, the station’s manager. “We know that we have many listeners in Ann Arbor, and the concert demonstrated that in a profound way. Hundreds of people came up to us, wished us well, and said they were glad we were in this relationship with this fine Michigan orchestra.”

“We love the Ann Arbor Symphony, and we just love Arie [Lipsky, the AASO’s music director and conductor] and have him on the air a lot to promote the concerts in Ann Arbor,” says Dave Devereaux, Whorf’s counterpart at WRCJ. “It just worked out well that Mary and the Ann Arbor Symphony were able to make the recording available to us.”

Whorf says he “would love to” broadcast more AASO concerts, but “there’s no formal agreement at this point.” Devereaux says “any orchestra that can provide a quality recording, we’d be happy to put it on the air.” Steffek Blaske says the celebrated pianist Andre Watts, the featured soloist in next season’s opening concert, has already given permission for a live broadcast, although he wants to review any recording before it’s aired.

Like the broadcasts, landing a soloist of Watts’s stature shows how far the AASO has come from its amateur past. “I used to play in the symphony back in the Seventies,” Blaske reminisces, “and we spent more time making cookies for breaks than we did rehearsing.”