Portland Classical Station Comes to Town

By Jaime Fuller

ViolinWith just a quick twist of the knob to 95.7 FM, classical music is now available in greater Corvallis 24/7, with no commercials.  Here is how that happened: the established All Classical Portland station started airing from a repeater station in our fair burg as of October 1.

“We’ve always wanted to be in Corvallis, but it’s hard to obtain an FCC license,” said Larry Holtz, vice president of technology for All Classical. “They are mostly all taken. We are leasing a license from someone who bought one as a business venture.” The Corvallis station reaches close to 100,000 people in the greater Corvallis area, including Albany and Junction City. Radios that show text will display detailed information on what is currently playing.

As the Portland station couldn’t reach all the way down to Corvallis, a new translator was put on the tower in McDonald Forest. This big fancy antenna allows them to rebroadcast one of their other repeater stations in Otter Crest, just 55 miles across the Cascade Range. The local station runs on very low power—15.5 watts, to be exact—as compared with 100,000 watts for most radio stations. Even without using much energy, the sound is crystal clear. “It works well by being on a hill and having a nice antenna,” explained Holtz.

All Classical Portland hopes to bring classical music to as many people as possible throughout Oregon and the world. With the convenience of online streaming, listeners as far away as Germany tune in to the station. The mission of All Classical is to “advance knowledge and appreciation for classical music; to build and sustain culturally vibrant local and global communities around this art form; to reflect the spirit of the Pacific Northwest; and to foster integrity, quality, and innovation in all that we do.”

A notably tasteful selection of classical music is the result of many experienced program directors. Curating is led by Vice President of Programming John Burke. They also have a strong music director, John Pitman, who was the first employee of the station in 1983, the same year All Classical Portland began.

The classical music station makes it a point to have broad, deep, and evolving playlists. “It’s easy to take a CD off the shelf,” pointed out Jack Allen, All Classical president and CEO. “It takes a little more love and care and curating to get regional artists. We turn our gaze outward into the community and bring in as many Oregon artists as we can.” They seek performances from all over the region, giving their music selection a distinctive, local sound.

“We want it to feel like Portland and the Northwest,” added Allen. Not in the sense of “keeping it weird,” but speaking to the tastes of Portland. “We jokingly say that it’s classical music with a splash of pinot noir from the Willamette Valley.”

For more information about All Classical Portland, online access to programs in their archives, or to make a donation, visit www.allclassical.org.