BRUSSELS — With the very appropriate “Music” by John Miles, Classic 21 founder and presenter Marc Ysaye, an emblematic figure in the world of radio, kicked off his last broadcast of the Classiques Sunday morning show on Dec. 18.
After 40 years with Belgian French-language public broadcaster RTBF radio and almost 35 years providing the perfect Sunday brunch classic rock background, Ysaye is heading for a new venture with Bel RTL.
His recognizable voice, unique musical format and encyclopedic knowledge created the iconic Classiques for almost 1800 three-hour shows that enjoyed a broad audience in both the French and Flemish language parts of the country.
From behind the drum kit to behind the mic
Ysaye was a drummer for the Belgian rock band Machiavel when he joined RTBF in 1982 as a presenter with Radio 21. In 1988 he created the Classiques show, a classic rock format Sunday rendezvous. Ysaye then launched the station Classic 21 in 2004 and was station manager for 15 years. In 2019, at age 65, he decided to step back from management and concentrate on the Classiques show; Etienne Dombret took the helm of Classic 21.
“I’m extremely grateful that RTBF allowed me to make the Classiques radio show, the basis from where I developed Classic 21,” said Ysaye. “Forty years is a nice figure, and the job is done. My baby — Classic 21 — has grown and is doing well; I’m happy.”
Dombret praised Ysaye’s career, his strong commitment and the fact he inspired a whole generation of radio presenters. “The Classic 21 team salutes Marc; the radio adventure continues,” he said.
At the end of the last show, Ysaye expressed his thanks to producer Francine Arnaud, saying, “She taught me the job,” presenter Claude Delacroix (“He made me discover Led Zeppelin”) and the vast team of studio engineers.
“Keep Classic 21 well and alive”, concluded the somewhat emotional presenter.
A new challenge
On his move, Ysaye says, “I am very happy to join the Bel RTL team. It’s a new challenge for me. I will continue to give the best of myself. And above all, I will continue to do everything with the utmost seriousness, without taking myself too seriously.”
Frédéric Herbays, Bel RTL’s media radio director, says, “As a Christmas present, we are very happy to announce today to our listeners the upcoming arrival of Marc Ysaye on Bel RTL. His musical expertise, credibility and talent as a rock storyteller will soon strengthen our program offering. This arrival will be the starting point of a new chapter for Marc, whom we are delighted to welcome to the team.