The Day The Music Died
By Roy Malone
July 7 was the day lovers of classical music in the St. Louis area could hear it no more at 99.1 on their FM radio dial, as they had for 35 years.
KFUO-FM Classic 99 stopped broadcasting classical and instead, under new ownership, began playing Christian contemporary pop music.
The station was bought from the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod by Gateway Creative Broadcasting and the station is now called Joy-FM. The $18 million deal was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in May, despite complaints from enraged listeners of the classical music.
Joy-FM is listener supported and two prominent givers – the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols and ex-Cardinal pitcher Andy Benes – made large donations to help finance the sale. (Their dollar amounts were not reported).
The impending sale was in the news steadily since it became known last October. Letters-to-the-editor by dismayed listeners were countered by supporters of the Christian programs. “Just change the station if you don’t want to hear the word of God,” wrote one woman.
Some suggested that the classical lovers find their music elsewhere, like on some other station. KWMU-FM said it would play classical, but on an HD channel that few listeners could get.
Sarah Bryan Miller, classical music critic of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote on May 21 that the Radio Arts Foundation had given up its hunt for a replacement station, at least for now. “Currently there is no appropriate station available to buy,” said a statement from the Foundation. It said it was placing the hunt for another station on hold until one becomes available.
The Foundation had originally tried to buy KFUO-FM from the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod but was told the church preferred selling to a Christian enterprise, Miller reported.
(Originally published in the St. Louis Journalism Review 7/2010).