Monday, May 10, 2010

Adieu KFUO

Another sad farewell to an institution that has served its community well for 62 years. KFUO FM radio, St Louis' only classical music station, will cease broadcasting classical music in the next few weeks. Owned by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the station was sold for 26 million dollars to, of all things, a Christian Music broadcaster Joy FM.

Many in the arts community, disappointed LCMS members, listeners and even local politicians battled what seemed like a foregone conclusion that St Louis would lose this radio treasure. The church did everything to block any other group besides Joy FM from bidding on the station's license. For example, a group of donors to the listener-supported station attempted their own effort to purchase the station and keep classical music on the St. Louis radio dial, but the group couldn't come up with as much money as offered by Joy FM.

One of the reasons for that could be that the church refused to provide the donor group a copy of the term sheet for the station. Thus the controversial and high powered attorney and LCMS Board member from Omaha Kermit Brashear could shepherd the sale through the approval process and claim no one else was interested. The sweetheart deal means Joy FM only pays $3 million up front and the rest over many years. Who knows if they will ever get the full $26 million.

Even though I no longer live in St Louis, 99.1FM was set on my car presets so when I traveled back and forth from Illinois to Kansas City, I would have at least an hour or two of excellent music. KFUO also played a wide variety of good classical music, not just short baroque pieces and excerpts. At Christmas, I could hardly wait to get in range to hear their continuous Christmas music broadcasts, so much better than the pop crap that permeated the dial. I got to know the announcers, Tom Sudholt, Ron Klemm, Dick Wobbe and John Clayton and could recognize their voices. Even though I heard them rarely since I left St Louis, they still seemed like old neighbors.

But no more. Greed wins out.

KFUO 1948-2010. Thanks for everything.
LCMS 1847- thanks for nothing.

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