Purchase agreement saves Classical 89/KBYU-FM

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BYU Broadcasting
BYU Broadcasting announced it has entered into a purchase agreement with FM radio station KUMT-FM. This means Classical 89/KBYU-FM will remain on the air at its current frequencies of 89.1 FM and 89.5 FM. (BYU Broadcasting)

The music isn’t stopping after all.

BYU Broadcasting announced Thursday it has entered into a purchase agreement with FM radio station KUMT-FM, which provides coverage over most of the Wasatch Front. This means Classical 89/KBYU-FM, which was previously going off-air in June as a result of networks merging, will remain on the air at its current frequencies of 89.1 FM and 89.5 FM.

Sandefur Schmidt, an alumna of BYU’s School of Music, said this is “absolutely tremendous news” since Classical 89 is where many are first exposed to classical music.

“I’m glad you can’t see the little dance that I’m doing,” Schmidt said.

Kory Katseanes, professor, former director of BYU’s School of Music and current director of the philharmonic and chamber orchestras at BYU, also said the news is “simply fantastic” for many reasons, one being that many people rely on Classical 89 and classical music for inspiration, peace and support.

The initial announcement in October 2017 that Classical 89/KBYU-FM was going off-air was met with two petitions: “Save Classical 89!” and “Stop the Elimination of Classical 89,” which currently have over 13,000 and 4,5000 signatures, respectively. A third petition on the Utah Cultural Alliance website with nearly 15,000 signatures states that those who have signed the first two petitions don’t need to sign the Utah Cultural Alliance petition because the petitions have “decided to combine forces.”

“Salt Lake City was astounded at how many people weren’t happy,” Schmidt said. “They totally underestimated how many people listened and the dedication and loyalty and need of that audience.”

KBYU-FM was always a great support to the School of Music in broadcasting philharmonic concerts live and helping to expand their listenership, according to Katseanes.

The decision to keep Classical 89 on the air is important for BYU and the School of Music, according to Katseanes, because it makes a statement that classical music is important for the university and the church because of “its inherent truth and value.”

“This is an important decision,” Katseanes said. “I applaud the university for finding another way to keep this going.”

KUMT was purchased from Community Wireless in Park City, which also owns KPCW in the Park City area. The sale terms were not disclosed.

Previously BYU Broadcasting had planned on consolidating BYUradio (on SiriusXM Satellite Radio) and Classical 89/KBYU-FM into a single radio network under the BYUradio banner, along with merging its four TV stations into a single station under BYUtv, effective June 30, 2018. Based on listener feedback, however, BYU Broadcasting was seeking a way to keep Classical 89/KBYU-FM when they became aware that KUMT-FM was for sale.

Upon hearing the news, Schmidt said she felt “overwhelming joy and relief that we are not losing such a vital part of the music community.”

The purchase is currently pending and subject to technical compliance and FCC approval.

“It isn’t really just about the School of Music, it’s about classical music and the continuation of something that’s virtuous, lovely and of good report and has proven that over centuries of devoted listening and participation by composers and musicians and audiences,” Katseanes said. “People love classical music for all the right reasons. So, this continues the university’s support of that.”

BYUradio will offer talk, public affairs and education in Utah on the following transmitting boosters:

  • 107.9 KUMT-FM1 (Salt Lake City)
  • 107.9 KUMT-FM2 (Ogden)
  • 107.9 KUMT-FM4 (Bountiful)
  • 107.9 KUMT-FM5 (Provo)
  • 107.9 in the Northeast Utah area (Randolph)

“There isn’t going to be better news given out this day, I can tell you that. This is a fantastic day,” Katseanes said.

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