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Classical music to get a second radio outlet in L.A. area

March 28, 2011 |  5:05 pm

HeaderHD2 Classical music fans in the L.A. area will have a second radio station to listen to starting next week with the return of K-Mozart.

Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters said Monday that after more than three years of struggling to attract listeners to a talk and then a "retro music" format at KGIL-AM (1260), it would return the station to its previous incarnation as classical outlet KMZT beginning April 4. The programming also will be heard on KKGO-FM 105.1 HD2 and at www.KMozart.com.

KUSC-FM (91.5) has been the area's only classical station since the demise of KMZT in October 2007. In an interview Monday, Saul Levine, president of Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters (which also operates country station KKGO-FM and jazz station KKJZ-FM), said that situation was part of what motivated him to make the format change.

"There is a real public need" for another station, Levine said. "I don't want to be negative about my good friends at KUSC, but many people are not happy with what they're getting."

He declined to go into specifics but promised that KMZT's programming would be different from KUSC's, both in musical choices and the presentation style of the announcers. (It will also feature advertising, since KMZT is a commercial station and KUSC isn't.) Levine noted that he isn't a newcomer to classical music: He successfully ran KMZT on the FM dial for 18 years until deciding to go country on that station in 2007.

He then tried to keep the format alive on the AM dial, but it proved to be a losing proposition because the signal didn't reach as far and the audio quality was inferior. So what's different now? Technology, Levine said. The station has installed a digital transmitter to improve the sound, and people who can't hear it over the air can access the programming in FM-quality stereo via the Internet and HD.

"We're in a position today where we can deliver a quality product, which we couldn't before," Levine said.

KMZT's on-air personnel will include John Santana, Gary Hollis, P.J. Ochlan, Nick Tyler and, starting April 18, David Benoit, who will host weekdays from 2 to 5 p.m. Though better known as a jazz pianist, Benoit is also a composer and conductor: He currently serves as music director of the Asia America Symphony Orchestra.

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-- Lee Margulies  

 

 

 

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