Steamboat may get classical alternative | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat may get classical alternative

Listeners in Steamboat Springs have been enjoying classical music on WWFM for several years, but the detailed weather reports for Trenton, N.J., have been a little off key.

Now, the board of West Slope FM, the not-for-profit that exists to bring classical programming into the valley, wants to offer listeners an alternative, but only if they approve.

“KCME, an independent public classical music station in Colorado Springs, has approached us to see if we would be interested,” in airing their programming, board member Jan Vail said. “We’ve arranged to air a one-week trial broadcast, and we are asking our listeners to vote.”

If listeners prefer, West Slope FM would drop WWFM in favor of KCME.

West Slope FM made arrangements with WWFM in Trenton several years ago after the owners of KVOD abandoned classical programming. Reaction has been favorable to the music presented by the New Jersey station at 91.7 and 92.7 on the FM dial, Vail said.

Although the station is located almost 2,000 miles away, it has made a concerted effort to mention Steamboat and Routt County on the air. But it is still a little odd for local listeners to hear the news from Jersey in between Liszt and Chopin.

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“The possibility of a Colorado classical connection is exciting,” Vail said. “It would be nice to hear local and Colorado events and concert information instead of New Jersey news.”

KCME, which is not affiliated with National Public Radio, also offers concerts performed in Colorado, including segments from Strings in the Mountains, based in Steamboat. The programming is broadened on Saturdays to include opera and jazz, and there is a program of classical music geared to children.

KCME general manager Jeanna Wearing said her station is a not-for-profit that does not receive public funds. About one-third of its annual funding comes from “underwriters” who get mentions on the air. The station holds two annual fund drives of three to four days. The fund drive goal for this fall was $160,000. West Slope FM has 120 members locally who contribute a total of $1,000 to lease land for a repeater site on Emerald Mountain.

Betse Grassby, executive director of Strings in the Mountains, said she would value a classical radio station that is in tune with artists and recordings that have a Colorado fit.

“WWFM has done a wonderful job, but I don’t need the fog report from the East Coast,” Grassby said. “I would love to have a Colorado-based radio station up here.”

Strings in the Mountains’ connection to KCME is through Betsy Schwarm, who hosts “Classically Colorado,” the weekly series of performances in the state. She hosted a similar program on the old KVOD. In Grassby’s mind, Schwarm is the personification of classical music in Colorado.

“They’ve done two wonderful broadcasts of our concerts and will continue to broadcast them this winter,” Grassby said.

Vail tentatively expects the trial week of broadcasts on KCME to begin Sunday. The transmitter on Storm Peak must be adjusted before the broadcasts can be received.

Listeners may “vote” to retain WWFM’s programming, or for a switch to KCME by calling Vail at 879-0917 or Lynn Abbott at 879-6673.

Other board members of West Slope FM include Jon Halverson, Jack Sprengle and Joyce Tibbets.

— To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com