Another place to hear classical music on the radio

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Classical music is returning to the AM radio dial, right where K-Mozart used to be.

Starting Feb. 15, KGIL-AM (1260) will devote a four-hour block every Sunday to the New York Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony. The orchestras’ broadcasts will air back to back from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. And beginning Feb. 16, there will also be a classical music interlude from 8 to 9 on weeknights: “Exploring Music With Bill McGlaughlin.”

During the week, KGIL is a talk station for most of the day, the local outlet for such conservative hosts as Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage and Glenn Beck. But before it went talk and changed its call letters in October 2007, the Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters outlet was KMZT-AM and featured an all-classical format.

Now stick with us here. KMZT-AM was a bomb, which is why station owner Saul Levine abandoned it. What had been a success -– for most of its 18-year run –- was KMZT-FM (105.1). But with the audience growing older and ad revenue declining, Levine moved classical music to the AM side of the dial in February 2007, to turn the FM spot into country station KKGO. With a weaker signal and poorer fidelity, the station saw classical music fans quickly flee, much to the benefit of KUSC-FM (91.5), which became the only full-time classical game in Southern California.


Now some classical fare is returning. In a news release issued late Friday afternoon, KGIL described its decision as a response to “popular demand,” noting also that the two orchestras would supplement the blocks of Great American Songbook programming that is already part of the Sunday schedule.

The syndicated “Exploring Music With Bill McGlaughlin” will replace “When Radio Was,” another syndicated show that presented episodes of classic radio series such as “The Jack Benny Show,” “The Shadow” and “Fibber McGee and Molly.” McGlaughlin is a musician, composer and conductor who is perhaps best known for his long stint as host of the public radio series “Saint Paul Sunday.”

-- Lee Margulies