Saturday, October 22, 2011

KBOQ bites the dust....again!

You probably know by now that our local classical music station KBOQ ceased to exist as of Monday. K-BACH as the call letters were pronounced, suddenly started playing pop stuff from years past. Nothing wrong with that per se, but the same thing has come and gone from so many other stations over the years that I lost count. 

This isn't the first time KBOQ listeners were subjected to an unexpected sound coming from their clock-radios, which, by the way, is a despicable way to awaken loyal listeners on a Monday morning. Back around 1994, K-BACH listeners were suddenly knocked out of bed by the sound of heavy metal on K-ROCK. K-ROCK, we were informed, was the only way the station could continue to make money. Yet it lasted just a few months before changing formats again to a 1970s rock format. 

Within a short time local entrepreneurs revived K-BACH on another frequency with most of the original KBOQ DJs. Despite the former owner's insistence that classical was an unprofitable format, the revived K-BACH remained a steady presence on the dial while other stations changed formats as frequently as the tides. 

Then Mapleton Communications took over KBOQ. Mapleton operates a handful of local stations, including the venerable KPIG, my personal favorite. As media companies go, Mapleton is a pretty decent one. After all, a counter-culture shop like KPIG likely wouldn't last long under just any ownership. 

But when Mapleton got its hands on KBOQ things started going downhill. The station relied on a classical feed from Boston, which was basically a "classical top 40" outfit, playing mostly catchy, familiar selections and avoiding many of the richer offerings. That's when they started to lose me. 

What finally drove me away was the commercials Mapleton was running on KBOQ. They were pretty much the exact same blaring commercials that were on KPIG. Such commercials work fine between sets involving The Waybacks and Dixie Chicks, but were offensively jarring after a Vivaldi concerto. 

In the days when K-BACH was successful, the commercials were low-key and tailored to match the mood of the music. Mapleton didn't seem to grasp the importance of that. I mean, really, who is going to turn on relaxing music if they know noisy commercials are going to disrupt the whole atmosphere every fifteen minutes? Not me. 

In my humble opinion, K-BACH's demise wasn't due to a lack of interest in classical music, not here where we have two symphony orchestras and one of the most famous classical music festivals in the world. In this sophisticated community, Mapleton's line that there isn't a market for classical radio is preposterous. But I couldn't stand the obnoxious commercials anymore, and I'll bet many other people felt the same way. Like me, they probably just switched to public radio, CDs, and Music Choice on Cable TV. 

I'll bet that a local entrepeneur could lure us back with a properly run classical music station.

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