Classical music to return to valley’s radio spectrum |

Classical music to return to valley’s radio spectrum

Local classical music fans will soon be getting their fix from a new source – a Trenton, N.J-based radio station.

The Pitkin County commissioners agreed yesterday that the county should spend $5,000 so the East Coast station can be beamed into the Roaring Fork Valley. The money is needed for equipment that picks the signal up from a satellite and connects it into the county’s translator network.

Tuesday’s emergency meeting on the subject came just over a week after the valley lost its source of 24-hour classical music when Denver’s KVOD-FM switched to a “jammin’ oldies” format.

By voting 4-0 to approve a recommendation from the county’s Translator Advisory Board, commissioners agreed that the frequencies that broadcast KVOD should remain devoted to classical music.

WWFM is a public station broadcast from Mercer County Community College in Trenton. It is already picked up in the Steamboat Springs area, which lost its link to KVOD several months ago. According to Translator Advisory Board chairman Michael Munroe, WWFM is favored over the only other in-state source of classical music, Denver’s KCFR (Colorado Public Radio), for several reasons.

For one, KCFR is an National Public Radio-member station, and its news broadcasts would duplicate those of the valley’s other Public Radio stations, – KAJX in Aspen and KDNK in Carbondale. WWFM is part of the Public Radio International network, and it does not broadcast news.

Second, local classical fans who have heard WWFM’s broadcasts told the translator board that the station’s programming is far superior to that of KCFR’s.

And, finally, the county and the two local stations have been battling KCFR for some three years over the Denver station’s bid to broadcast out of Glenwood Springs, knocking KAJX and KDNK off the air in parts of the valley.

Local radio listeners are dependent on the county’s network of signal-boosting translators to hear their favorite stations. The network rebroadcasts signals from KAJX, KDNK, KVOD and other stations into the nooks and crannies of the Roaring Fork Valley on a variety of frequencies. KVOD, for instance, has been heard on 101.7 FM in Aspen and 100.9 FM in Carbondale.

Once the translator board spends $5,000 from its budget on a satellite “down-link,” those frequencies will be used by WWFM. The county must act quickly, said KDNK manager Allen Scott, because federal law allows frequencies to be reallocated after they go unused for 10 days.

The commissioners also agreed with the translator board that a survey of the valley’s radio preferences is needed. Several people at yesterday’s meeting complained that since KSNO switched from modern rock to a smooth jazz format, the valley has no real source of popular music. They also pointed out that the area’s large Hispanic community might appreciate more Spanish-language broadcasting.

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