Off Air? Here’s Why…

It’s unfortunate, but sometimes radio (and TV) stations go off air for various reasons. It’s as frustrating for us as it is for you. Why does it happen? Why does it last so long, sometimes? Are you aware it happens? All good questions, with good answers. Below are a few situations and explanations as to why we’re off air.

photo 1

Automation System at WUOL

1. There’s no sound. Only popping and hissing. This could be a problem at our transmitter in New Albany, Indiana, or with the signal from our studios to the transmitter. We’re still transmitting, but for some reason no music is reaching the tower. This could be a computer error with our “Automation System” (pictured right), when someone isn’t in our studio.

2. My radio is set to 90.5 FM, but I’m hearing a different station. Chances are we have lost power at our transmitter and a nearby station on the same frequency is bleeding on to our channel. This requires our engineer to high-tail it out to the transmitter in New Albany to address the problem, which could range from a fuse blowing to a major power outage, or even damaged equipment (over-heating in the summer or freezing in the winter).

WUOL Transmitter in New Albany, IN.

WUOL Transmitter in New Albany, IN.

3. There is a lot of static. It’s hard to pinpoint this problem since there is a lot out of our control, like atmospheric conditions, the quality of your antenna or structural interference (office buildings, large structures, etc). This is most likely impossible to fix, since too many factors are at play.

4. You’re not playing music. Is someone asleep at the studio? Are you aware of the problem? We are always aware of the outages. Many of us who work at Louisville Public Media receive email and text alerts on our phones when we go off air. It looks like this:
Contrary to what you might think and hear, we don’t have someone who is sitting in the WUOL studio 24 hours a day. Some of our live hosts are coming to us from a shared service in St. Paul, Minnesota. Why? We simply don’t have the financial support to provide live hosts who work in our studios in downtown Louisville, 24-hours a day. Using this service allows us to provide excellent music in an affordable way. We hope this helps you understand some of the off air issues and how we work to correct them as quickly as possible. If you would like to learn how you can support the purchase of new equipment or new staff people, please feel free to contact our development team at (502) 814-6500. If you have other questions about Classical 90.5, please email us:


Classical 90.5 studio board

Delius’ America


Two major European composers became smitten with American “Negro folk” melodies. Both spent time in America and both absorbed these folk tunes into their own compositions. One was Antonin Dvorak and the other was Englishman Frederick Delius.

Delius’ father was a hard-working German immigrant in Yorkshire, England. He expected his sons to follow in his footsteps into the wool trade. Frederick, however, had different ideas. As a last-ditch effort to get his son into business, Delius’ father bought an orange grove in Florida. He hoped that this would convince his son to give up his dream to become a composer. Instead, Frederick spent his Florida days getting to know the locals and soaking up the sounds from the ex-slaves who sang and played on the Florida plantations.

American Rhapsody is one of two versions of a set of variations on an old slave song. The rhapsody is the shorter of the two and was combined with other, more familiar American themes. Delius was unsatisfied with this version and returned to the song later in the more successful Appalachia.

The Florida Suite was written in 1887 when Delius was 24. It was his first major orchestral composition, written while the composer was attending the Leipzig Conservatory of Music. To get it performed, Delius provided the musicians with a keg of beer. The movement “By the River” is the closest to a big Romantic melody the composer ever came.

Delius first heard the ex-slave song with which he’d base Appalachia on while he was living in Danville, Virginia, teaching violin. The work, which was scored for chorus, orchestra and baritone soloist, was completed in 1903.

We’ll hear these works by Delius on An English Pastorale, Sunday at 9 am.

Sign Up for Summer Listening!

SummerListening-logo13_1000x1000 (1)

Give your ears and brain what they deserve this summer – good music! Sign up for Summer Listening and listen on weekdays in July at 11am and 4pm.

Children’s Tales

potter mouse

On the next English Pastorale, we’ll hear music inspired by tales for children.

Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote only one work intended for the ballet stage. Old King Cole was written for the English Folk Dance Society’s Cambridge branch, which premiered the work on June 5, 1923, at Trinity College. It was written for orchestra with an optional wordless chorus.

John Lanchbery used Victorian themes as the basis for his score for Royal Ballet’s film Tales of Beatrix Potter. The film was devised as a story presented in entirely visual terms with no words. Five stories from Potter were chosen for the production.

Frederick Delius set his musical sights on the folk-tales from the Norwegians Peter Christen Asbjornsen and Jorgen Engebretsen Moe. The music doesn’t follow the stories as a symphonic poem would, but describes the feel and mood of the whole collection of stories through music.

Here’s an excerpt from Lanchbery’s Tales of Beatrix Potter.

Local artist feature – Rachel Grimes


While Lunchtime Classics takes its summer break, we’re looking back at some of the program’s featured artists.

Rachel Grimes is a pianist, composer, and arranger based in Kentucky. She has achieved a certain amount of fame in the ground-breaking chamber ensemble Rachel’s, with whom she toured and released six albums. Rachel’s solo releases include Book of Leaves, Marion County 1938, and Compound Leaves.

Grimes’s music defies a tidy description. Her music crosses many genres, from classical to jazz to ambient to Americana. BBC reviewer Spencer Grady said of her solo debut album that…

“Her most wondrous gift was always her ability to paint the most evocative pictures in purest ivory and her lightness of touch allows majestic statements such as the Corner Room and Long Before Us to ring out, echoing with sensuousness and sentiment before drawing the listener back in.”

Grimes is one of the artists included in the June 2014 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine, highlighting artistic interpretations of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”