Another One Bites the Dust

Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the “Your Own Show” competition! I got over 1200 votes, which is not bad for a last-minute entry, I think! :)

One cool dude, yes, but alas, not commercially viable. :'(

A short time ago, music nerd Andy brought to my attention that his local classical music radio station, KFUO 99.1 FM in St. Louis, would soon be going off the air, to be replaced by Joy FM, which will broadcast Christian pop music.

I just learned that today is the final day for the classical format, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is running an informal poll on its website asking which recording of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony should be the last selection played. Go and vote, if you’d like, or at least read the poll choices, which provide an interesting mini-history lesson on important recordings of the 9th and how they relate to social and political milestones of the 20th century.

Another interesting factoid in the Post-Dispatch article is that the classical station was sold down the river owned by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which is headquartered in St. Louis. Now, I was born in St. Louis and raised in the LCMS, and VirgoMom worked for the church for a number of years, so I believe I have some standing to comment on this, and I would just like to say,

What the H-E-double-hockey-sticks, LCMS?!?!

Remember, J.S. Bach was Lutheran. My appreciation for sacred music developed in large part through the Lutheran Church, where I started playing for services when I was 12, first on piano, and not long after on organ. If any church can appreciate classical music, it oughta be the Lutherans! And while I very strongly believe that one mark of a good musician is the ability to appreciate all styles of music, I must confess that I am sorely challenged when it comes to Christian pop. I have heard some good stuff in the genre, but like anything that has to compete in a commercialized world, the good stuff is often swamped by a high quantity of mediocrity. (The same thing is true of country music, in my humble opinion, and I realize that saying such things can get me in big trouble from all sides! Put down those pitchforks, y’all!)

Anyway, the loss of a classical station is a sad thing for those of us who have built our lives around this music. It brings up several thorny issues relating to our poor track record in drawing and retaining audiences, the cruel vagaries of the marketplace that elevate mass appeal over quality (and if you think that sounds elitist, please riddle me this: what’s your favorite restaurant? What restaurant do you feel is the best? Now, what restaurant has the highest revenue? Yeah. :P ), and the near impossibility of earning a full-time income in my chosen profession. Yeah, I’m a little bit bitter — sorry.

Now, I realize that life will go on, and in fact, so will KFUO-FM, in an online incarnation. But that means that drivers in the St. Louis area won’t be able to run across classical music serendipitously as they scan their radio dial. As the world becomes more compartmentalized and specialized, we only encounter what we’ve already chosen for ourselves, which limits what we can be. It’s a pity.

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