September 7, 2012

Southern Maine radio station to stop airing classical music

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

Classical radio network WBACH's southern Maine station will go off the air next week.

The station -- WBQW, heard in the Portland area on 104.7 FM -- was sold in a bankruptcy auction earlier this year to a company identified as Mainestream Media.

The new owner will take over that station at 5 p.m. on Sept. 13, which will end the playing of classical music on the station. The new owner has not made its plan for the station public.

WBACH's classical music will continue to be heard on 106.9 FM in the midcoast and on 107.7 FM in the Ellsworth area, said Pat Collins, vice president of operations for the WBACH stations.

Those two stations were also sold during the bankruptcy auction. But the new owner, Binnie Media, will keep the classical format, Collins said.

Listeners in southern Maine who want to continue to get WBACH programming can listen to it online, at

Classical music fans can also turn to the radio stations of Maine Public Broadcasting Network -- which are all over the state. But those stations carry only about three hours of classical programming a day, between 9 a.m. and noon.

Attempts to reach Mainestream Media for information about that company's plans for 104.7 FM were unsuccessful.

Collins said WBQW has a signal that reaches all of York County and parts of southern Cumberland County, and was averaging about 25,000 listeners a week. It is now the only full-time commercial classical radio station in the Portland area; such stations are rare nationally.

The WBACH network was started in Maine in the late 1990s, and at one time had four stations.

When made aware of the impending loss of WBACH programming in southern Maine, several regular listeners expressed sadness. Even though they can get classical music elsewhere -- including the Internet and iPods -- they enjoy being able to get it free and over the air.

"As a classical singer and a lover of classical music, it definitely makes me sad," said Danielle Vayenas, who works in marketing at Cuddledown, a bedding company in Portland, and sings in regional productions, including operas. "I know when my parents come here on vacation, that's their go-to station."


Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


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