Wine Country, here comes All Classical Portland
As an original member of All Classical Portland radio station, going back more than 30 years, John Pitman possesses a deep appreciation for classical music.
Old and young, Pitman believes anybody can enjoy the music of Beethoven, Bach, Dvorak, Mozart, Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky and local composers such as Kenji Bunch. And, the young have been growing as fans, as evidenced by the station's first association with a student-run station at Linfield College in McMinnville.
"I love the inventiveness of the music, it's constantly surprising me," said Pitman, an on-air host and the station's director of music and programming. "It doesn't matter if you've been listening to a symphony since you were 10 years old, like 'Beethoven's Fifth' — every time I hear something it's like I haven't heard it before. That's a credit to an orchestra, conductors and musicians constantly hearing new interpretations and new approaches to this music, and it keeps it fresh."
Indeed, keeping things fresh means finding new audiences. A dominant listenening audience has always been the 50 years-and-up folks for nonprofit All Classical Portland, which operates as KQAC 89.9 FM out of the Hampton Opera Center, home to Portland Opera in Southeast Portland. But, Pitman and Suzanne Nance, the station's president and CEO, said that teenagers and 20-somethings have become more interested in classical music.
And, now, Linfield College has signed on as All Classical Portland's most recent affiliate. Its station, KSLC 90.3 FM, was to start airing All Classical Portland at 7 a.m. Thursday, April 2.
The student body at Linfield College chose to put classical music on its radio station, allowing students to focus studies and opportunities on digital media platforms, including podcasting and digital creation. So, in a sense, KSLC has been "donated" the airwaves to All Classical Portland.
"Although student radio has been a staple of the college experience for decades," said Joe Stuart, a Linfield student and KSLC's general manager, "we at KSLC are excited about this new era of digital student media that will help journalism students inform and engage with their community in the constantly evolving modern media landscape."
The station will air 24-hour classical music and regional arts coverage; and ICAN, All Classical Portland's International Children's Art Network channel, will also be available to the some 100,000 residents of Yamhill and Polk counties through its HD2 channel.
About three million listeners in Oregon and Southwest Washington have access to All Classical Portland, and the station has a strong audience of about 250,000 weekly listeners, Nance said. People from 125 countries have listened into All Classical Portland via www.allclassical.org and its mobile app.
An excited Nance also proclaimed one of the advantages of being on the radio dial in the Willamette Valley: "We are excited to engage with and showcase Oregon's Wine Country. Stay tuned!"
Yes, Nance said the station will make a concerted effort to form relationships with wineries. She said 8-10 wineries have already been contacted.
She added: "This is perfect: wine and classical music. A match made in heaven."
While the young and older seem to enjoy classical music, the demographic of people in their 30s and 40s needs some work, and "going into wine country is a good way to do that," Nance said.
But, Nance reiterated that it's a great opportunity to engage young people.
All Classical Portland began as part of KBPS at Benson High School in 1983, and moved into its current home in 2014. And, it has continued its association with young people.
Pitman serves as broadcast mentor for the station's Young Roving Reporters program, which is part of the JOY (Joyous Outreach to You/th) program. And, the station has engaged youth music education organizations; many classical music fans start out as musicians in orchestras.
"I feel like I'm hearing from, and the station is hearing from, more young people," he said. "We're more involved with young musicians more than ever, through different avenues. We have young artists in residence — we have our second one now, pianist Natalie Tan.
"The station is more involved now than it ever has been with young people."
All Classical Portland broadcasts on KQAC 89.9 in Portland and Vancouver, KQOC 88.1 in Newport and Lincoln City, KQHR 88.1 in Hood River and The Dalles, KQHR 96.3 in the Columbia Gorge, KQMI 88.9 in Manzanita, 95.7 FM in Corvallis and now KSLC 90.3 in McMinnville. For more on All Classical Portland, see www.allclassical.org.
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