PROVO — Tune in, listeners — Classical 89, the 72-year-old radio station scheduled to go off the air in June — is back in business.
Brigham Young University’s broadcasting managing director Michael Dunn released the news to staff this morning. According to Dunn, BYU Broadcasting recently entered into a purchase agreement for the radio station KUMT-FM. The acquisition will allow both BYUradio (now on SiriusXM Satellite Radio) and Classical 89 to remain on the air as separate stations.
“I think it’s a happy day for radio listeners in Utah and for classical music fans and for people who appreciate the very unique things … we have coming from BYU Broadcasting,” Dunn said in an interview with the Deseret News.
“It was miraculous, really — and the timing. Everything worked out. It was just a win-win that emerged and we’re grateful that everybody gets what they want with this.”
In October 2017, Dunn announced that BYU Broadcasting was cutting Classical 89 in order to focus their efforts on two broadcasting properties, BYUtv and BYUradio. This change, Dunn said, was made in an attempt to enhance the quality of their content.
“This was never about classical music or the viability of Classical 89,” said Dunn, who added that he’s always been a fan of the station. “It was … this effort to reduce, simplify, focus and really put all our efforts behind this core TV product and a core radio product.”
But after reviewing feedback from patrons who frequented the station, Dunn stated that BYU Broadcasting revisited the product yet again to see what they could do to keep Classical 89 on the air.
“I was looking at every possible option to keep Classical 89 going and that included everything from … doing a pre-packaged subscription channel on one of our sub-channels or broadcasting another subscription service on our HD channel,” said Dunn. “But the issue we kept running up against was purely one of technology, and that is the majority of our listeners with Classical 89 are older and we’re just uncomfortable with using any of the digital or streaming services that are so readily available.”
With the acquisition of KUMT-FM, though, Dunn said that Wasatch Front listeners can easily tune into BYUradio’s program of talk, public affairs and education on 107.9 KUMT-FM1 (Salt Lake City); 107.9 KUMT-FM2 (Ogden); 107.9 KUMT-FM4 (Bountiful); 107.9 KUMT-FM5 (Provo); and 107.9 in the northeast Utah area (Randolph.) Additionally, Classical 89 fans can still enjoy their favorite music 24 hours a day by simply turning to the familiar 89.1 and 89.5 FM dial.
Since no jobs were lost when Classical 89 was originally cut from BYU Broadcasting, the transition of purchasing KUMT-FM, which is subject to technical compliance and FCC approval, should be a smooth one, Dunn said.
“World-class entertainment is still a priority and fortunately, we’ve already established that benchmark with Classical 89,” he said. “Between the announcers, the format, the programming — it’s all there, so it’s not like we’re having to figure this out and make it good. It’s a shining star already. So, people will see that the quality is there.”
And as for the Classical 89 listeners who petitioned to keep Classical 89 alive, Dunn said he’s glad BYU Broadcasting could find a solution that should please everybody.
“I hope this news brings joy and celebration,” Dunn said. “They have done a very good job in expressing how much this mission means to them. … I hope they’ll see we’ve done … a great job at bending over backwards to make sure that we can stay true to what we know we need to be doing strategically. But also, we’re able to find a way to accommodate this within our limited scope and resources.”