Mozart as a Public Good
Saint Louis’ only orchestral music station might be changing formats, and it has two area congressmen pretty angry:
U.S. Reps. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, and Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, are asking the Federal Communications Commission to weigh the potential negative consequences of selling KFUO (99.1 FM) to a company that broadcasts “Christian contemporary” pop music.
The station is currently owned by the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church. Facing a cash crunch, it agreed to sell the station last year for $18 million to Gateway Creative Broadcasting.
The pending sale — which still needs federal approval — has raised a cacophony of dissent from the St. Louis arts community, bemoaning the loss of the only station in the region where listeners can hear full time from Brahms, Bach and others.
As someone who likes orchestral music and listens to KFUO fairly often (it is number five on my car presets) but absolutely hates Christian contemporary, I sincerely hope the station keeps its current format.
That being said, what do Shimkus and Clay expect the Missouri Synod to do if this sale is blocked? The church probably wants to sell the station because it is a drain on the church’s resources, so it might just stop broadcasting even without a sale to save the operating expenses. Barring that, the Missouri Synod will have to cut back on other goods or services that it sees as more vital than the radio station. Such a cutback could include anything from laying off marginal employees to reducing charitable work.
If people are interested in saving KFUO’s current format of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, they should organize a fundraiser or a pledge drive for the station. KDHX 88.1 FM in Saint Louis (number four in my presets) provides a format for numerous different genres of music that are never heard on pop radio, and all without almost any advertising because the DJs and workers are almost all volunteers and listeners give them money for the good work they do. If people truly want a station to play concert music in Saint Louis, they will support it monetarily. If not, then as much as I or anyone else may not like it, the scarce resources used to broadcast it currently should be used for some other kind of programming that people like more.