The LA-based owner of two music stations on the Central Coast has decided to unload them. But classical music fans there have nothing to fear. San Francisco classical music station KDFC is scooping them up.
Public radio's KDFC and its corporate parent, USC Radio Group, broadcast classical music from Ukiah all the way down to Orange County. KDFC president Bill Lueth says they weren’t shopping for new stations. But Leuth says Saul Levine, the owner of Mt. Wilson Wilson Broadcasters, which broadcasts on 103.9 in Monterey and 95.9 in Big Sur, wanted to give first dibs to people who’d stick with the classical format. "He was nice enough to reach out to us to say 'Hey, I’m gonna put this up for sale,'" Leuth says. "'Would you guys like it?'”
Brenda Barnes, president of USC Radio Group, wrote in the press release: "We are grateful that Saul Levine came to us first in order to ensure these important communities had a strong classical music service."
Leuth says the aging audience for classical music makes it a hard sell to advertisers. But a non-profit can do just fine with listeners 45 and older. The Los Angeles-based station KUSC, for instance, is the most popular classical music station in the country. And KDFC, one of very few stations that offers classical music in the Bay Area, is in the top five.
There's plenty of those on the central California coast. "There’s the Monterey Symphony, the Santa Cruz Symphony, the Carmel Bach Festival and the Cabrillo Festival" Leuth says. "We can help shine a light for those groups that do so much good work."
If the Federal Communications Commission agrees, possibly by summer’s end, the call letters will change, and KDFC will pipe a repeater signal south. It’s not local radio, but it’s more local than the automated programming from LA listeners there get now.