Major donors support KCUR to create second radio station to provide 24/7 classical service
At a time when we most need it, classical radio has returned to Kansas City.
91.9 Classical KC began broadcasting June 30 and is now operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The music service also can be streamed through a new website at classicalkc.org.
The station is an enterprise of KCUR 89.3, Kansas City’s public radio station, which purchased the signal at 91.9 FM from William Jewell College in late June. KCUR is an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which holds its broadcasting license.
Adding a second radio station to its portfolio fits well with KCUR’s history of supporting Kansas City’s rich arts culture, said Sarah Morris, interim general manager.
“We see Classical KC as a cultural institution in the making,” Morris said. “Over time, we want the new station to be Kansas City’s ambassador for all things classical, and this is a fundamental step in that direction.”
Morris pointed out that the purchase of the station would not have been possible without the generous support of several key funders in Kansas City.
“We are supremely grateful to those wonderful funding partners who enthusiastically agreed to make initial investments in this vital project,” Morris said.
Major funding for the purchase price and station operations came from the William T. Kemper Foundation, Sunderland Foundation, Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation, Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, Hall Family Foundation, R.C. Kemper Charitable Trust, Dianne Shumaker and the Sosland Family.
For the past 20 years, Kansas City has been one of the few metropolitan areas of its size without a full-time classical music radio station. But, with the launch of the new music platform, KCUR intends to do more than simply play classical compositions.
91.9 Classical KC will be a local service with a focus on Kansas City, its arts institutions, its home-grown musicians, its audiences and its schools. The new station will act as an ambassador for the classical community and will partner with area arts organizations such as the UMKC Conservatory, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and the Kansas City Symphony to promote their work.
Classical KC will be funded exclusively by private donors, partner marketing and a membership program modeled after the one that helps sustain KCUR. No state or tuition money will be involved in this enterprise, Morris said.
Stephen Steigman, KCUR’s longtime chief of broadcast operations, will lead Classical KC as its director. Over the next three years, the new station plans to expand its dedicated staff, including announcers, a social media/digital editor, a membership director and a community outreach coordinator.
Steigman reiterated the importance of bringing Classical KC to life at this time.
“While concert stages are dark, we can help classical arts organizations and musicians remain in front of their audiences at a time when they need to be in front of their audiences,” he said.