When I was in Claremont in the mid-1970s, the region’s classical radio station was KFAC. It was a radio station people loved to complain about. The pieces played were too light. Or they played only a single movement of a symphony. Or why did a classical station need to broadcast a syndicated newscast? Of course it would have been easy enough (through good chunks of the day) to turn the dial to the public station KUSC for classical music, but it was, after all, fun to complain.
In 1989, long after I left Claremont, KFAC dropped the classical format and immediately Saul Levine switched his KKGO from jazz to classical. It had, in fact, started out as a classical station. Levine has been in the classical music business in one form or another ever since. In 2007 he switched KKGO to country and moved classical to the 1260 AM frequency he owned. He has had his K-Mozart (KMZT) brand on various frequencies and locations over the past several years. For a short time it was on a relatively weak AM signal in San Francisco.
When Terry and I were in Monterey for our anniversary in March I was scanning the dial on the radio at the hotel to see what kind of listening we might have for the evening. I came across two classical stations, which surprised me, since I didn’t think there was a broadcast FM classical station in Monterey after KBOQ dropped the format. There is KAZU HD2, which is available online or if you have an HD radio, but I wasn’t aware of anything via standard FM broadcast. It turns out that Levine had recently bought the 95.1 and 97.9 frequencies in Salinas/Monterey and they were broadcasting KMZT. Very cool, since, as I discovered when we got home, I can get one or the other in my car radio around town in Gilroy.
I also added KMZT to my internet radio. In fact I booted the San Francisco classical station KDFC off the one-touch buttons in favor of KMZT, and relegated it to my menu list. I felt a bit guilty about that, since KDFC has been around forever and I’ve been a member since they made the switch from commercial to non-commercial in 2011. I also felt a bit guilty about moving KAZU HD2 lower down in my one-touch list and listening more to KMZT.
I’m not sure, though, why I should feel guilty. KDFC tends to do the same thing that we accused KFAC of in the 1970s – being a little too light in their programming choices. As for KAZU, they simply broadcast the NPR classical service out of Minneapolis. I assume, though I don’t know, that KMZT is programmed out of Los Angeles. So if I enjoy it the most, why not keep tuned there.
We will, however, continue to listed to KAZU HD2 on Sunday evenings. I love Valerie Kahler’s sexy voice, and I enjoy her musical selections, which often trend in the direction of sacred music.
The nice thing is that I have plenty of choices when it comes to classical music.
Gilroy is in an interesting location. It is at the very southern end of Santa Clara County. Leave Gilroy on U.S. 101 heading south and you’re in San Benito County. Head east through Hecker Pass and you find yourself in Santa Cruz County. One of the very first things you see on the other side of Hecker Pass on Highway 152 is the Santa Cruz County fairgrounds.
Officially all of Santa Clara County is part of the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market. When we had DirecTV satellite service we got all of the San Francisco stations. Now that we have cable that is true as well, but we also get the Monterey-Salinas CBS and NBC stations. That is not true for the next town to the north, Morgan Hill, which has the same cable company.
Most of the Monterey/Salinas radio stations come in clearly here in Gilroy. I listen to both of the NPR stations in the region, KAZU in Monterey, and less often to KUSP in Santa Cruz. I love the traffic reports on those stations. Very often it’s something like “no major incidents to report” or “heavy traffic on Highway One through Santa Cruz.” That’s it. Terry and I both like the weatherman on the Monterey NBC station, an elder statesman with a relaxed attitude.
In general, the radio and television media in the Monterey-Salinas-Santa Cruz market reflects the somewhat slower pace of life in the region. And that’s a Good Thing.Embed from Getty Images