Talk about undignified deaths…
The final rape, pillaging and plundering of classical radio station KXTR will be complete sometime later today when what’s left of the beleaguered "Radio Bach" at 1660 AM goes business.
And while for fans of – not just classical music but the station’s ties to the local arts community – a certain sadness is in the air, there was little doubt this day would one day come. That after the station that signed on in 1953 on 96.5 FM was sold by civic leader Robert P. Ingram to Heritage Broadcasting in 1997.
"Today is our last day on the air," a voice on the station told listeners Wednesday..
And while most locals still think of the station as KXTR, since last spring it’s gone by the handle Radio Bach and the semi-secret call letters KUDL AM.
That’s becauase when parent company Entercom blew up KUDL last spring it needed a place to park KUDL’s legendary call letters so another station couldn’t get its mitts on them and pit them against what is now The Point.
"They knew KUDL’s call letters didn’t really fit with this Radio Bach thing but they didn’t want anybody else to get get them," says one radio insider. "But the funny thing is they have to give the new call letters on the air every hour on the hour, but they hide it. They say, Kansas City’s HD classical station in a normal voice and then they say KUDL really fast, almost in a whisper. They’ve been doing that since they switched over."
By giving away its music library to Kansas Public Radio in Lawrence and directing KXTR listeners to that station, Entercom hopes to deflect any furor over pulling the plug on the voice of Kansas City’s arts community.
For good reason.
The last time the company shafted local arts affcionados there was hell to pay.
Thousands of letters, emails and calls flooded Entercom’s offices, head dude Bob Zuroweste said at time.
Then it got ugly…
"Nobody wished me dead, but they wished me homeless and out on the streets at Christmas," Zuroweste told me then. " ‘And I hope your family suffers.’ It was pretty ugly."
Someone even threatened to egg Zuroweste’s car, he got flipped off at a local restaurant and a car salesman recognized his name and said, "You’re the guy who blew up KXTR!"
As I mentioned earlier, even Z’s wife was pissed.
"My wife finally took the ‘Keep Out’ sign off our bedroom door," he joked.
Zuroweste boasted that despite the AM signal at 1660 AM, when KXTR went HD it would sound even better.
However, Entercom is also blowing up Radio Bach’s HD signal.
One victim of the jettisoning of KC’s lone classical signal is Westport’s Tivoli Theater.
"We advertised a lot on KXTR, Radio Bach or whatever," says Tivoli main man Jerry Harrington who appeared on longtime host Patrick Neas farewell show earlier today. "It was one of the few places we could let people know what we were doing because we not only show movies, we show satellite broadcasts of ballet, opera and theater from around the world. So it’s not only kind of sad, it makes my life harder now."
Speaking of Neas, mum’s the word on his feelings about KXTR’s passing, owing to a severance package that forbids him from speaking out.
"He’s crushed," says a source. "He may get out of the business altogether now. He’s just so very discouraged at the whole industry now, but he took the money so he can’t talk."
The final indignity: On KXTR’s final night it switched over from classical to broadcast the KU Women’s Basketball team’s game against Oklahoma State. Fittingly, KU lost.