Arts on the Air
RAF-STL radio brings back classical music and a connection to the vibrant local arts and culture scene.
When Classic 99 KFUO-FM went off the air in July 2010, St. Louis was left without a classical music radio station. Fortunately, with the launch of RAF-STL radio this spring, the void was short lived. The venture is the result of efforts by the Radio Arts Foundation, a group of business and community leaders who came together after the fall of KFUO not only to ensure that classical music returned to the airwaves, but also to offer support and a connection between the public and the fine arts and performing arts communities. Arts-lovers can tune in both on analog radio at 107.3 and in hybrid digital at KIHT 96.3 HD2, or catch the live stream at rafstl.org.
In many ways, the creation of RAF-STL is a response to the arts boom that has occurred in St. Louis over the last five years, says James Connett, veteran broadcaster and general manager of RAF-STL. According to a 2012 study by the Regional Arts Commission, the arts and cultural industry in St. Louis has an economic impact of $582.3 million and accounts for 10,000 full-time equivalent jobs. “The enormous growth means that the arts are alive and well,” Connett says. “The problem is getting the word out that this is a happening city when it comes to the arts.”
From its newly built studio in Clayton, RAF-STL broadcasts far more than just classical music. It also plays chamber music, vocal music, choirs, opera, symphonic, jazz and blues, and broadcasts live performances—some in the studio and others on-site at local venues. National performances aired on the station will grow to include renowned companies such as the San Francisco Opera, Jazz at Lincoln Center and others, but it’s the original programming that promotes the richness of the local arts and culture scene.
Locally produced shows like “Interview with the Arts,” “Arts Tonight,” “Composer’s Datebook,” “Lunch with the Arts,” “Classic Tracks” and children’s programming will play a major role, as will in-depth programs featuring local arts and lifestyle personalities. Shows such as “Careers in the Arts” and “The Practicing Physician” will delve into more specific topics. “Across the board, I’m very positive about the future growth of local arts,” Connett says. “Our job at the radio station is to help it do that.”
James Connett, RAF-STL
Photo credit: Kelly Wright