In his latest KCSBeat column for the Santa Barbara Independent, Coin Marshall returns once more to the music library to explore its 6,000-vinyl selection of classical music. Noticing that there aren’t any all-classical music shows on the schedule at the moment, he makes a case for one by pulling three examples of the section’s diversity.
As New Yorker music critic Alex Ross once wrote, “I hate ‘classical music’: not the thing but the name. It traps a tenaciously living art in a theme park of the past.” The term and the subculture to which it gives rise can indeed be aggravatingly limiting. Perhaps they’ve kept KCSB’s radio minds from turning toward the actual music for any extended period. Yet my digs through the historical archives have turned up old schedules and newsletters that reveal quite a bit of classical programming in KCSB’s past. In the early 1960s, some of the station’s founders have told me, when their broadcasting license didn’t stand on ground as solid as it does today, it was a much safer choice than that volatile rock-and-roll business. Today, you might say the situation has reversed: It’s a “safe” choice to play rock in that there’s always an audience for it, especially the indie variety. But classical? A riskier proposition.
Fortunately for aspiring classical DJs, KCSB hasn’t taken this temporary lack of relevant programming as a prompt to dismantle the classical section of its music library. By my rough estimation, at least 6,000 classical albums remain on the shelves, and that’s just the vinyl. Nor, in my explorations there, have I found it to be particularly staid or rigidly defined. Sure, there’s a lot of the stuff you’d hear on anonymous classical stations across North America, but the selections extend far, far beyond that, across distances, sub-styles, and time periods alike.
You can read the story in full here.