Classical Coming Back To St. Louis

Radio Arts Foundation 107.3 Classic 99 99.1 Classical KFUO St. Louis KIHT-HD2Update 4/8: After testing their signal for the past week, 107.3 K297BI/96.3 KIHT-HD2 offically debuted the “RAF-STL” Classical format at 10am this morning with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

The press release announcing the launch of the station follows:
With the flip of a switch, at precisely 10:00 a.m. CST on April 8, 2013, classical music and the sound of art will gloriously return to the St. Louis radio airwaves. The Radio Arts Foundation’s new station will be branded as “RAF-STL” and the station will operate on analog radio at 107.3 FM and on hybrid digital radio at KIHT 96.3 HD2.

The station’s opening is the result of countless hours of effort by the Radio Arts Foundation Board of Directors, as well as the determination and dedication of the station’s staff, contributors and supporters throughout the St. Louis region.

“This is truly a dream come true,” said James Connett, general manager of RAF-STL and a veteran of St. Louis radio. “Building this new station from the ground up has been a labor of love. We are thrilled to finally bring classical music back to the St. Louis community on the public airwaves. Everyone involved with the project looks forward to the station becoming a nucleus for the arts community in the St. Louis region for years to come.”

The station is located at 7711 Carondelet in Clayton, Mo., in a newly built studio with two broadcast studios, one on either side of a conference room that doubles as a performance space. In addition, the station also has the capability to broadcast remotely throughout the central corridor of the St. Louis.

Live performances, both in-studio and at remote locations, will be an integral part of the station’s programming. The station will have access to the Centene Corporation’s 280-seat auditorium from which it plans to air live performances.

In addition to classical compositions, RAF-STL will also play chamber music, vocal music, choirs, opera, symphonic, jazz, and blues, as part of its programming line up. The station has already amassed an enviable music collection with a unique partnership to access and download the libraries of KFUO, the former Classic 99, and WRR, Classical 101.1, in Houston. In addition, listeners will be delighted to hear both new and familiar broadcasting voices on the RAF-STL airwaves. Personalities who will be part of the station’s programming include local radio veterans Jim Doyle, Kathy Lawton Brown and Tom Sudholt.

In addition, RAF-STL will have a robust schedule of original arts programming designed to showcase and promote the depth and breadth of cultural and arts attractions in the St. Louis area. A few of the programs to be locally produced include: Interview with the Arts, Arts Tonight, Composer’s Datebook, Lunch with the Arts, Classic Tracks, Art of the Cantor, as well as programming specifically designed for children. Weekly jazz, blues and opera programming will round out the station’s mix.

In-depth shows featuring local arts and lifestyle personalities to inform listeners about specific topics such as “Careers in the Arts” and “The Practicing Physician” are also planned. National performances featuring renowned companies such as the San Francisco Opera, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Chicago Symphony, among others, will be featured. Nationally syndicated programs such as the “Song of America” radio series hosted by Thomas Hampson, will also air on the station.

“Listeners in the St. Louis community will now have a resource on the radio dedicated solely to the arts,” said William C. Rusnack, president of the RAF-STL board of directors. “This is a community-driven effort that we hope will bring enjoyment and enrichment to classical music fans, as well as the general community, throughout the St. Louis area.”

RAF-STL is organized as a 501(c)(3), nonprofit corporation, is not owned by any single individual or corporation, and is incorporated for the public benefit. The board of RAF-STL is responsible for overseeing the management and interests of the station. RAF-STL’s goal is to support the growth of the arts and culture in the St. Louis region through the programming and outreach efforts.

The station will rely on charitable donations and advertising revenues from the use of a nonprofit commercial license to fund its operations. The station will sell only 72 minutes of paid advertising time per day and will offer discounted advertising opportunities to non-profit organizations in the St. Louis area. A friends’ organization is currently being established, as well as plans for fundraising events, the pursuit of foundation grants and various other fundraising opportunities.

RAF-STL is proud to join in and contribute to the incredible growth the arts in the St. Louis region has enjoyed over the past five years. According to a 2012 study by The Regional Arts Commission, the arts and cultural industry in St. Louis has an economic impact of $582.3 million in the region. St. Louis employment in the arts rose to more than 10,000 full-time equivalent jobs, a leap of 14 percent since 2007. RAF-STL views this as an exciting time to celebrate and promote the arts in the St. Louis region.

About Radio Arts Foundation – St. Louis

Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis (RAF-STL) is dedicated to bringing classical music back to the St. Louis public airwaves. The station operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and will offer the St. Louis region a broad and invigorating radio format, both on analog radio at 107.3 and in hybrid digital at KIHT 96.3 HD2. Broadcasts will also be streamed live at www.rafstl.org. The station’s mission is to be a nucleus for the cultural and performing arts community in the St. Louis area to connect, grow and flourish for years to come. The station will partner with distinguished local arts organizations, as well as solo and chamber artists, to broadcast performances, conduct in-depth interviews, air behind-the-scenes programs, and cover the local arts and cultural scene. More information on the station and its programming is available at www.rafstl.org.

Update 3/7: After a few more moves of the translator to optimize its signal as much as possible, Radio Arts Foundation will launch its Classical station in St. Louis on Monday, April 8.

The new Classical station has found its permanent home as 107.3 K297BI, being fed by Emmis’ KIHT-HD2. Programming will feature a mix of local and national programming produced by WFMT Chicago’s Beethoven Network.

Original Report 4/4/2012: In March 14’s Translator Report, we reported on the move of 95.7 K239BI Gray’s Summit towards St. Louis being fed by Emmis’ 96.3 KIHT.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports today that The Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis is working on plans to restore Classical music to the FM dial this summer. Embedded in that report is information that the group has leased KIHT-HD2 to feed their translator.

The proposed analog station will be audible “in the Highway 40-I-44 corridor,” said station manager Jim Connett. Its position on the dial has not yet been confirmed. The HD channel will reach an area within a 50-mile radius of Shrewsbury. The plan is to increase the analog station’s wattage, and thus widen coverage, as the money comes in to pay for it

St. Louis has been without a fulltime Classical station since 99.1 KFUO was sold in July 2010.

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