Radio station format changes are not usually pleasant. For reasons known only to station owners, they tend to be drastic, abrupt, and unwelcome to loyal listeners.
Friday evening, as I was getting ready to take a shower I tuned the bathroom radio to KBOQ hoping to hear classic rock tunes which is my favorite entertainment for my particular bathing ritual. But instead of classic rock, it was just...classical.
Now don't get me wrong. I love classical music as much as any other form, but it was still kinda jarring to expect one thing and hear something very different. At first I thought it was some sort of feed mix-up, as this particular station had that happen once before. But no, apparently KBOQ is now rebroadcasting San Francisco's classical KDFC in Monterey. So KBOQ, originally known as "K-Bach," has come back to its classical roots.
Five years ago Mapleton Communications abruptly changed KBOQ's format from classical to classic hits, much to the dismay of everyone whose alarm clock-radio was set to gently waken them to Mozart or Handel. Getting hit in the head by Led Zeppelin and the Doobies at 6:00 am one Monday morning was an obnoxious surprise to say the least. A lot of long-time K-Bach listeners were very, very angry.
I was among them, though I kinda saw it coming. Mapleton didn't have a clue as to how to run a proper classical station, a problem I described in detail in a 2011 Mental Note entitled "KBOQ bites the dust....again!"
KBOQ's frequency is now owned by the University of Southern California, under the banner USC Radio Group. KDFC broadcasts full-time classical music on six different frequencies covering territory from Big Sur to Ukiah. Locally it can be found on 103.9 FM (Monterey), 95.9 FM (Big Sur), and Comcast Cable channel 981. USC also runs five classical stations south of here in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Thousand Oaks, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs. It's a pretty big outfit, especially for public radio.
KBOQ's classical resurrection creates an interesting situation in the local radio market. You see, a year or so after K-Bach went rogue, a new commercial classical station KMZT, K-Mozart, came to town at 95.1 FM and neatly filled the void. The big question now is whether the Monterey Bay area can support two classical stations. We've never had more than one at a time.
Perhaps a clue can be found in an interesting twist to this story. You see, KDFC's Big Sur frequency 95.9 FM was, until very recently, owned by K-Mozart! According to a USC Radio Group blog entry, K-Mozart's parent company, Mount Wilson Broadcasters, donated their Big Sur station to USC "in order to ensure these important communities had a strong classical music service.” Perhaps this is a signal that KMZT also has a format change in the works. We'll have to wait and see.