Classical 89's purpose is to expand BYU's public reach as an agent of good by (1) engaging the public in ennobling experiences that are traditionally associated with classical music masterpieces, (2) showcasing the university's commitment to worthy art and helpful ideas, and (3) encouraging intellectual, spiritual, and physical growth and improvement.
How to Listen
Over the Air
Listen to Classical 89 at the following frequencies:
89.1 FM — Most of the Wasatch Front
89.5 FM — Spanish Fork (Southern Utah County)
106.9 FM — Nephi
96.1 FM — Milford
100.3 FM — Cedar City
100.7 FM — Ivins
Here on our website at classical89.org
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Classical 89’s program selections come from an extensive classical CD library, Classical 89 productions, concerts and performances by or from Utah Symphony and Utah Opera, Utah Festival Opera, the Cathedral of the Madeleine, BYU School of Music, and the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition and Foundation. Other local performances are also regularly featured, as well as nationally and internationally syndicated concerts, operas, and other programs.
It also presents news from the BBC World Service, local morning and afternoon news, and several hours each week of BYU programs and university lectures and events, including weekly devotional and forum addresses.
Classical 89 began broadcasts in 1946 as KBYU-AM 660 on the BYU campus to the Knight and Allen Halls and was run by and programmed for students. Shows included Campus Talent, Campus Variety Show, Quiz Show, Music of the Masters and Campus News, alongside Popular Music Requests and KBYU Players Present.
BYU professor T. Earl Pardoe first proposed the idea of a campus radio station to student Owen S. Rich, who had previously worked as a studio engineer and was just returning from serving as a radio and radar technician for the Coast Guard in World War II. It was Rich’s idea to work with Provo so that the city’s power-line network would become the station’s antennae, and in 1948 KBYU became available citywide.
Switch to FM
In 1958, various BYU construction projects meant that the KBYU studios would lose access to Provo power lines and another means of broadcast needed to be found. At the same time, FM transmissions were emerging as the industry standard but required a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Owen Rich, now a member of the BYU faculty, filed the application on Aug. 17, 1959 and received approval in 1960. At the time the call letters “KBYU” were assigned to a liberty ship, so on May 9, 1960, BYU began FM broadcasts as KBRG. The FCC assigned the KBYU call letters to BYU’s FM station on May 19, 1960, and on Nov. 9, 1960, KBYU-FM aired its inaugural program.
From a technological standpoint, 88.9 FM wasn’t a fancy operation but it was an improvement from the late 1940s when all musical selections came from the radio hosts’ personal collections. In 1973 the station narrowed its programming to classical music, jazz, and related fine arts programming. In 1979 the format focused almost exclusively on classical music and news and information, which continues today.
KBYU-FM has always been prepared to embrace new technology, as demonstrated by the transition from AM to FM, mono to stereo, telephone to satellite, LP to CD, analog to digital, tape to computer. Additionally, when the advent of the satellite made it possible to air live events from around the world, KBYU-FM was one of the first stations to be connected to the Public Radio Satellite System and the programming offered by National Public Radio (NPR).
In October 2005 Classical 89 started digital HD radio broadcasts, and in April 2006 it started broadcasting HD-2 programming. This second audio channel is BYU Radio, which was established in 2002, initially as an Internet station.
The collaborative relationship between KBYU-FM and Utah Symphony began in the early 1970s. Utah Symphony concerts were aired locally and distributed nationally via a KBYU-FM-operated syndication. In the 1980s Classical 88 became Classical 89, and what had been an 18- then 20-hour day, became a 24/7 station.
Also in the late 1980s, after the completion of Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, KBYU-FM established a production and broadcast facility in the hall, which changed the previously delayed concert broadcasts to live and which utilized the first digital recording techniques before digital became the norm.
The success of the Utah Symphony partnership resulted in annual broadcasts of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, which began at BYU and then moved to Salt Lake City. This in turn was followed by recording and broadcast opportunities with the Temple Square Concert Series, Utah Opera, the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyo., the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, and Utah Festival Opera in Logan.
From the beginning KBYU broadcast performances from BYU. Today the BYU School of Music has regular broadcasts, as does the University of Utah School of Music.
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