BYU Broadcasting is doing the right thing by dropping the classical-music format at KBYU-FM and ending KBYU-Channel 11′s affiliation with PBS.
Not surprisingly, the decision incensed a group of classical-music lovers. They will lose the convenience of Utah’s last regular FM radio station that airs the music they love.
However, they’re not losing classical music. There are alternative ways to listen.
The changes are set for June 30. Channel 11 will become a broadcast outlet for cable channel BYUtv; the station will simulcast the BYUtv schedule. And KBYU-FM will become an over-the-air outlet for BYUradio, currently available on Sirius XM and online. (BYU International, a linear TV channel, is also being eliminated.)
On the TV side, this really is a “no brainer,” as BYU Broadcasting managing director Michael Dunn put it. Channel 11 doesn’t air the full PBS schedule, but all the PBS programming it carries also airs on KUED-Channel 7. For decades, it’s been kind of weird that Utah has two PBS stations duplicating each other’s schedules to such a large extent.
No, KBYU is not killing Big Bird, as some have suggested. Just hit “7” on your remote and you can still see “Sesame Street” and all the other children’s programs on the PBS schedule.
I’ve heard from more people bemoaning the impending loss of KBYU’s “Perry Mason” reruns at 10:30 p.m. than the loss of “PBS NewsHour” at 7 p.m. (And, by the way, you can watch “Perry Mason” returns at 10:30 p.m. on KTVX’s Channel 4.2; “NewsHour” airs at 6 p.m. on Channel 7.)
This change seems certain to strengthen KUED in terms of increased audience and, potentially, more donations from viewers. And making a strong PBS station stronger will benefit all Utahns.
The fact is that BYU is not just another broadcaster. The university has a mission tied to its owner — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — and “Sesame Street,” “Perry Mason,” Beethoven and Brahms don’t do anything to advance that agenda.
According to its mission statement, “BYU Broadcasting is an integrated media organization that inspires people to see, do and be the good in the world by providing uplifting content, magnifying the university, engaging like-minded communities and elevating ideals into action.”
You don’t have to agree with BYU’s mission, but you have to acknowledge that it exists. And these changes are designed to focus BYU Broacasting’s resources where the people in charge think they will do the most good.
KBYU-FM has been incredibly convenient to listeners for many years. But it’s not the sole source of classical music. In Utah, there’s KUER3, which is available on HD radio and streaming online. Do a quick internet search and there are a number of other sites that stream classical music for free.
I’m sure there are older listeners who are not tech-savvy, but there are always CDs. Even vinyl. Heck, get Grandma or Grandpa an old iPod and load it with music.
My 91-year-old mother doesn’t spend a lot of time on the internet, but my family makes certain she has access to her preferred entertainment.
No, I’m not anti-classical music. One of the preset buttons on my car radio is set to KBYU-FM, and it has been for years. I’ll miss having classical music one touch away.
But television and radio have changed enormously. They continue to change. It makes perfect sense for BYU Broadcasting to focus on BYUtv and BYUradio.