Michael Dunn, Managing Director of Brigham Young University’s Broadcasting unit, bowed to public pressure last week and announced KBYU 89.1 FM - Classical 89 - will keep its long-time Classical music format. The move is a face-saving measure after polite but intense protests by KBYU’s listeners.
In October 2017, when the change was announced, Dunn downplayed the important of Classical music on the radio. He told Variety [link]:
“In this digital era, there are so many resources for classical music that it just really doesn’t make sense to maintain the status quo at KBYU-FM. One of the few pressures we don’t have is monetization pressure. Our clarion call is to do better work.”
These comments, and others by Dunn, have hit a sour note with listeners, particularly folks who had supported Classical music on KBYU for years. Now Dunn is singing a different tune.
Last week, BYU announced it had agreed to purchase KUMT 107.9 FM. 107.9 will air will air BYURadio, a 24/7 infomercial for the Morman Church, that was scheduled to begin on KBYU as of June 30th.
Local press reports indicate that Dunn intended to continue with his plan to axe Classical 89 until recently when senior university officials, besieged with complaints, learned that KUMT was for sale. The purchase price has not yet been published.
Dunn put a happy-face on the change of plans but he made it clear that his priority remains bringing BYURadio’s Mormon-oriented programming to a national audience. Dunn told the Salt Lake Tribune [link]:
"We are delighted that we can now showcase our national radio product. And I am just thrilled for what this means to our thousands of ardent Classical 89 fans we have in this market. This acquisition is truly a win-win for all."
BYU affirmed its decision to end PBS programming on KBYU-TV where it had aired for four decades. Dunn’s BYUtv programming will air instead of PBS shows.
When we first reported on the changes at KBYU FM and TV last October [link] we provided descriptions of some of Dunn’s “up-with-Mormon” programs. It is hard to imagine anyone other than Dunn’s friends and family listening to them.
Dunn said in October that ending Classical 89 should not concern folks around Salt Lake City. He told Variety:
“This is not the Baltimore Colts leaving town in the middle of the night,” a reference to an incident in the 1980’s when the NFL’s Baltimore Colts suddenly moved to Indianapolis in the middle of the night.
Utah’s Classical music fans disagreed and made their voices heard. Because of them, Classical 89 will now continue.
Ironically, KBYU-FM had one of its best performances in Nielsen Audio’s March 2018 PPM ratings.
Comparing March 2018 with March 2017, KBYU’s estimated weekly listeners were up over 11%.
Both KRCL and KCPW had big drops in estimated listeners. KCPW did not meet Nielsen’s minimum audience criteria.
KUER does a terrific job but the vast majority of people who live in the Salt Lake City area are very conservative and/or old-school Mormons.
It doesn’t seem like to KUER will challenge KSL AM/FM’s AQH share or weekly cume any time in the near future.
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