Several weeks ago, Bill Clark devoted one of his fine columns to his love of opera, both from Grand Ol’ Opry and from the Metropolitan Opera. He indicated that hearing the Saturday broadcasts from the Met when he was young was a major factor in his love of the art form. I could have written a very similar story, having heard a broadcast of “Aida” on a St. Louis AM station in 1949; I was 9 years old and instantly hooked for life. I know dozens of people who can testify to the importance of discovering opera through those broadcasts, and the Met reports many thousands of such testimonials.
Recently, KBIA has been trumpeting its new HD channels; one of the developments is the shift of the Met broadcasts from the regular FM to the second channel, available only to those who can afford to buy one of the fancy HD radios (preferably from KBIA, of course). They don’t mention the obvious negative consequences — this move will further limit the audience for opera in mid-Missouri, and it effectively kills the chance for young people to discover the art form serendipitously. Only those who have the special radio and know where to find the broadcast will experience it. I think this is a terrible development, and I hope that many will make the effort to tell KBIA to reverse this unfortunate and greedy decision. The opera should be available to all.
Note: Clark is a columnist for the Columbia Daily Tribune.