Beethoven Rolls Over; St. Louis to Lose Only Classical Music Station

Oct 7, 2009 at 9:53 am
After 61 years on the airwaves, a last-ditch effort to save Classic 99.1 (KFUO-FM) was all for naught. Yesterday the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod announced the sale of the classical music station to Christian music broadcaster Joy FM.

The church owns the rights to KFUO and began quietly negotiating the sale of the station earlier this year to Joy FM.

A group of donors to the listener-supported KFUO attempted their own effort to purchase the station and keep classical music on the St. Louis radio dial, but the group couldn't come up with as much money as offered by Joy FM.

One of the reasons for that could be that the church refused to provide the donor group a copy of the term sheet for the 100,000 watt station.

Today Post-Dispatch classical music critic Sarah Bryan Miller quotes the Rev. Dr. Paul Devantier (a Lutheran clergyman who wanted to retain the station for classical music) as saying:
"The church body is making it very easy for (Joy FM) to purchase the station, offering to finance it. If that opportunity, if those same terms had been offered to individuals in the (LCMS) and the community, which has been so supportive, the station could have maintained its format, the tradition of the station, and its service to the church, the community and the world."
Counters the church's attorney, Kermit Brashear, in an article in the St. Louis Business Journal: "Nobody made a real offer of more than $8 million except Joy FM."

The deal still needs support from the Federal Communications Commission. Pending that approval, the station transition will finalize in March -- at which point the classical music will cease.