Anyone who has worked at a commercial radio station where there was considerable freedom on how to arrange commercial breaks - this was once common but not so much now - can tell you that there is a difference between how long break is and how long it seems to be. A break consisting of two 60-second commercials seems shorter than one consisting of three 30-second commercials, because three commercials seems longer than two.
Similarly, playing three two-minute Beatles hits back-to-back takes less time than simply playing "Stairway to Heaven," but feels like more music, because three tunes is more than one. This is because the mind doesn't count time second by second, but rather senses the passage of time when something calls attention to it, and on the radio that is the end of one thing and the beginning of another. In fact, "Stairway to Heaven" seems long not because it takes more than seven minutes to play but because it has different movements with tempo changes.
In music, it is possible to put a lot of music into a short amount of time if the music is full of incident and event. Anton Bruckner could take a couple of simple ideas and spin them out to an hour, but at the cost of Bruckner symphonies seeming really long. You need to be in a certain mood to properly appreciate Bruckner, and one thing you mustn't be is in a hurry. Gustav Mahler's Sixth Symphony, on the other hand, is so full of ideas and episodes that you never get a feeling of "too" long.
Twice a year, when Hawaii Public Radio opens the phones and takes listener pledges for funds to continue operations, I try to give value between mentions of the phone number by playing a lot of short classical pieces that have a lot of music packed into them.
These are pieces like the Habanera from "Carmen," or Manuel de Falla's "Ritual Fire Dance," or "Hoedown" from "Rodeo." Henry Mancini's theme to "Peter Gunn" is only two minutes long. "The Great Lover" from Bernstein's "Fancy Free" is even shorter. Bach wrote lots of excellent 90-second pieces and loads of sensational piano music is that short.
On Saturday morning the first hour of my usual program will be all music, but we will open the phones in the second hour, and it goes without saying that I will enormously appreciate any pledge you care to give to Hawaii Public Radio, an independent nonprofit unaffiliated with any government or university, or public television for that matter. It operates economically with a staff many of whom, like me, volunteer their time.
After "Howard's Day Off" is off, I'll hang around to tally your pledges during "Weekend Edition," assisted by my colleague Keoki Kerr, Hawaiian Airlines VP Rick Peterson, Noe Tanigawa, and the Oddfellows, who come in at 6 a.m. Saturday instead of the usual 7 a.m. to help collect pledges in support of "Howard's Day Off."
Howard's Day Off airs live 5am-7am HST on KHPR Honolulu, KKUA Wailuku and KANO Hilo and streams on http://www.hawaiipublicrado.org . Max Cacas of Washington D.C. founded the Howard's Day Off Listener Appreciation Society on Facebook and collects all these Music Posts there.