Hearne: Pending Death of Classical Radio Breaks Entercom Founder’s Promise

Consider the imminent killing of legendary classical radio station KXTR aka Radio Bach is a promise broken…

That’s because as former local Entercom boss Bob Zuroweste stated in the past, Entercom founder Joe Field "promised" to keep the classical music format on in Kansas City when he blew up the station on FM and moved it to 1660 AM where it resides today.

On death row.

As the guy at the helm when Entercom first assassinated classical music here, Zuroweste’s take on the company’s plans to drop classical on 1660 and replace it with – zzzzzzzzzzz – business news and Mike Shanin:

"Well, the company assassinated it, not me, " Zuroweste laughs. "I was just the henchman. I’m the one who had to do the act, but I agreed with it because classical music wasn’t appealing to advertisers and the demo that appealed to advertisers and there were not a lot of listeners. And that happened all over the country. So it was a good move to put The Buzz on and it was a success."

Zuroweste declined to revisit the subject, but several sources confirm it was Entercom boss and founder Joe Field – a classical violinist – who was credited at the time with saving classical radio in Kansas city by ordering that KXTR be moved to 1660 AM more than a dozen years ago.

Entercom blew up KXTR in the year 2000 and following months of controversy in when even KCPT Channel 19 considered picking up the format rolled it back out on 1660 AM.

It wasn’t much, but it was something, a promise from a corporate chiefain that classical music would always remain a part of the fabric of Kansas City radio.

"Because we wanted to have some exposure for classical music listeners," Zuroweste says. "It wasn’t because of the controversy, it was because we wanted to give the classical lsiteners something."

As for the pending move from classical to business on 1660, "I think it’s a good move," Zuroweste says. "Because listening to music on AM makes no sense."

Will the controversy arise again now that Entercom is breaking its word and taking classical off the air?

"Yeah, it was a controversy when KXTR had a 2 or 3 share back then," Zuroweste says. "But it’s been less than a share or half share for quite some time now. I mean, they lost 80 percent of their audience when they moved to AM."

And the breaking of Entercom’s promise?

"Shift happens," Zuroweste says. "Nothing is forever, all good things come to an end – that’s life. Besides, I’m not there anymore. At the time I was speaking for the company, but obviously it’s out of my hands now.

"I mean, if somebody wants to listen to classical music in Kansas City they can find it. There are so many other alternative forms, whether it’s on your computer, your phone."

Back when Zuroweste pulled the plug on KXTR FM, he confirmed that his wife was highly irrate about it.

"She didn’t kick me out of bed, she locked me out of the bedroom," he says. "But that was tongue in cheek. Hey, all of my kids learned to play classical piano – every one of them. And my son plays classical guitar. But classical music just isn’t commercially viable anymore."

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26 Responses to Hearne: Pending Death of Classical Radio Breaks Entercom Founder’s Promise

  1. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    Oh God, how will I sleep tonight knowing this?
    What a travesty. Next, all shuffle board tournaments will be cancelled, followed by bridge clubs disbanding, and the mass of highly popular pinochle tournaments will collapse. Jesus, what will blue haired nearly-dead’s do with themselves? Wait, I’ve got it! Just go ahead and put the other foot in the grave and get it over with.

  2. paulwilsonkc says:

    Listening to music on AM makes no sense?
    Listening to….zzzzzzzzzzz – business news and Mike Shanin on AM or FM makes no more sense. Could he be any more tedious? This move will increase share from 1.5 to 1.5.

  3. tiad says:

    tiad says:
    A key part of this story has gone unreported: It’s actually going to be business news with Mike Shanin and Black Barbie. Also, Johnny Dare and the Glazey-Eyed One will drop in from time to time and offer up their morning drive-time antics.

  4. Orphan of the Road says:

    AM was once the window to the world
    You could lay in bed with your cheap AM radio and hear stations from Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Denver, Mexico and others when the night sky was right. KAAY The Mighty 1090 ruled the night air waves. Things you never heard on the KC stations during the day.

    But that was then, now it is mostly syndicated shows and talk passing as news (KMBZ, new radio, really?). The AM spectrum could be put to much better use than now I am sure.

    You are luck Paul, I had to listen Shanin’s idiot cousin for 30-years. I’ll take Mike over Arlen any day and twice on Sundays.

  5. paulwilsonkc says:

    Orphan, you brought back OLD memories…
    Clyde Clifford, Beaker Street, KAAY, Little Rock! The little tinkling music sounds behind his voice, the original late night, alid back album cut station!! I listened nightly from Carthage, MO, zip code EIEIO!! Shortly after sundown, WLS would appear! John Records Landexter!! And youre right, sitting out back with my little transistor radio.
    Ahhhh…… thats for taking me back there!

  6. Cliffy says:


  7. Hearne says:

    And I remember the good old days like 8 years ago when…
    You could lay in bed at night – or sit at your desk and work even – and listen to Russ Johnson in Denver get in trouble by asking a kid to yell on the radio that he was going to murder his parents!

    Those were the daze…

  8. kansas karl says:

    beaker street
    I remember sitting on the tallest hill outside of McPherson KS and tuning into KAAY as the thunderstorms lit up the night and rolled over the dead flat plains. You can go there again, nearly all the shows are cross refrencable by artist and song title at http://beakerstreet.com/ enjoy!

  9. paulwilsonkc says:

    Hearne, I DID listen to Russ
    after he moved to KOA. What a tragic end to that little story. You just never know. Met him on several occasions, strange guy, but I enjoyed his show. Not that kid shouting part, but he would keep a smelly pile stirred!

  10. Orphan of the Road says:

    If you tuned in early your caught The World Tomorrow with Garner Ted Armstrong. The grandfather of modern talk radio, without the call-ins.

    And there was the 100-watt station from Del Rio, Tx (actually Matamoros, Mexico) where you could by 100 chicks for a $1.

  11. paulwilsonkc says:

    Orphan, thats a lie…..
    Craig Glazer is the founder of 100 chicks for $1.00 and you know it!! Get your facts straight.

  12. Orphan of the Road says:

    Paul, don’t start it
    I’m still hiding from the Kaw Valley Hemp Picker sting Craig set up. Or tried to set up. It’s kind of hazy after all these years. Getting someone to hide in the trunk of a car in western Kansas in August to find out who was putting joints into books at the KU library (and conversely controlling the World Supply of Mary-Jew-Wanna) makes enemies. To this day people don’t find it funny.

    Hundred chicks for $1? Knew a guy who could, and did, get chicks for nothing. And the guy was gay!

  13. paulwilsonkc says:

    I dont get you, Orphan
    You ask me not to start on the Glazer issue, then you turn around yourself and bring him up in your last line! Practice what you preach.

  14. Orphan of the Road says:

    The guy wasn’t The Glaze. Saw his get shot three-times in the chest, take the gun away and pistol-whip the shooter to near-death. And the shooter was a 70s Teamster enforcer.

  15. paulwilsonkc says:

    Thats the kind of guy I like to hang out with!
    Speaking of strong armed, muscled up tactics, (NO, not his dating skills), I know you aren

  16. Hearne says:

    Nice to see all you guys out strutting around…
    with your black armbands on for classical radio in KC.

  17. paulwilsonkc says:

    Was this about Classical Radio? I forgot.

  18. Super Dave says:

    Classic is alive corporate heads are dead
    Classic music is alive and well just can’t say the same about radio anymore.

  19. Smartman says:

    @ Paul Wilson
    What’s your smoke? I’m an Avo #5 guy.

  20. paulwilsonkc says:

    Smartman, Im all over the map
    Avo is a great cigar. Lately, I’ve been leaning towards Connecticut wrappers, lighter smokes. I like some old school stuff, Cohibas, Kristoff has a great new stick out, Casa de Garcia for daily smokes, R&J, and… I really like some candella wrappers. Oliva, VSG Shade Grown…. see what I mean?

  21. Hearne says:

    Would it be untoward of me to…
    refer you ladies to the smoking story below?

  22. harley says:

    cigars…for smoking…are you serious…
    my main man bill clinton gave new meaning to “lighting up a stogie”…
    and wilson…i have so much wisdom to express to my fans/disciples/readers and
    followers that the words come out faster than i can possibly type. Is that down
    at the majestic steak house the smoking club you talked about?
    personally…i’d rather hang with my possee and smoke a good joint of medical

  23. paulwilsonkc says:

    so that explains harley’s syntax….
    … medical maryjuwanna makes him type crooked like that!! Mystery solved!! Nice writings of late, Harley, but I can sense youre SO CLOSE to busting out the 1%er stuff again!! Please just stay “Harley” and I wont have to bust out the GoogleEarth shots!

    Oh, and Harley, and sincere fan of a great stick would never…… EVER allow a ho-bag mess it up like that! Maybe a Swisher Sweet, but not a REAL cigar.

    Hearne, NOTHING would ever be untowards of you. I wanna be just like you when I grow up.

  24. Hearne says:

    Better hurry!
    Sounds like you’re almost grown

  25. the Tenor says:

    I’ve been a KXTR listener for the past fourty years.

    And am greatly angered at Entercom’s incremental dismembering of the only classical music station in the city,
    ending in its being ‘flushed’ as one would a dead goldfish.

    There are two other stations that play some classical music; KCUR (UMKC) and KANU (KU).
    Both play a very brief window of classical music during the day and night.

    The KC market dosen’t need another Talk format station. There are aready a hand-full across the AM dial.
    And on the FM side there are plenty of country, and rock stations to satisfy the public.

    Words cannot express my distain of Entercom.

  26. dave mount says:

    demise of KXTR
    I grew up listening to KBEA/KBEY to become KXTR 96.5 FM I drove to Des Moines on weekends for work and severely cheated on the speed limit to hear George Harter from Eagleville all the way back to KC. I also listened to Clyde Clifford’s Beaker Street program. That little AM station in Little Rock had the ability to reach 2 billion (yes with a ‘b’) listeners. Folks, this was in 1968!!!! Tell me FCC and you corporate greed mongers–When or what will ever satisfy you? Television as I knew it died long ago.
    I am very blessed with my 41 year old stereo with a 7 gang analog tuner. My vinyl and 78 rpm records simply will not wear out.
    Dave (antenne dude)-Kansas City

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