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Arts & Culture

Silence, Concern In Wake Of Reported Classical South Florida Sale

Graphic by Kenny Malone
Classical music on South Florida radio could be coming to an end.

It may be the day the classical music died, but Classical South Florida listeners still have no official word that three local radio stations have been sold to a California-based religious broadcasting company.

Current, a public media trade publication, reports that the Minnesota-based American Public Media Group is selling Classical South Florida's stations to the Education Media Foundation for $21.7 million.

Neither APMG nor EMF would discuss details or confirm the sale to WLRN.

Classical South Florida, a subsidiary of the American Public Media Group, is comprised of WKCP in Miami, WPBI News in West Palm Beach and WNPS in Southwest Florida.

EMF's president and CEO, Mike Novak, said he wouldn't speculate how -- or if -- he'd use the South Florida stations. But if programming moved away from existing formats, South Florida would be left without a dedicated classical music station, says long-time music writer Greg Stepanich.

"One of the frustrating things about this development is that there is so much terrific classical music activity in South Florida," Stepanich says, who founded the Palm Beach ArtsPaper. He points to Seraphic Fire, the New World Symphony, the Miami Summer Music Festival, the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival, two opera companies.

"It deserves a higher national profile... and it's harder to get that without a radio station that publicizes that and talks about that," Stepanich says.

Current reports that Classical South Florida had been "suffering annual losses ranging from $1.22 million in 2010 to nearly $3 million in 2012."

CSF treasurer and board member Richard Rampell doesn't deny the network was losing money but says APMG arranged the sale without telling the CSF board or giving them a chance to find alternatives.

“And not only me but other members of the board feel like we’ve been double-crossed by the people up at American Public Media by selling the station out from under us,” Rampell says.

In an email to WLRN, the American Public Media Group said it “strictly adheres to its bylaws and follows the appropriate notification sequencing.”

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