Alaska Notebook: Happy 25th to KLEF

On Monday it will be 25 years to the day the radio station KLEF, 98.1 FM, debuted its classical music format in Anchorage.

Rick Goodfellow, who with wife Jan Ingram owns this labor of love, said that on that day in 1988 there were 55 commercial classical stations in the United States. Now he counts three. One in Chicago, one in Dallas and the one right here in Anchorage.

How has KLEF endured?

"My stubbornness," Goodfellow offered. "Persistence."

Persistence sounds better. So does KLEF, against what is sometimes a cacophony across the radio dial.

"Jan and I are willing to put up with a lower return," he explained. He likes running a commercial station, making a living in the market place while often playing music with centuries of staying power and extraordinary grace.

They could make more money. But then who would play "Scheherazade?"

Goodfellow's sense of classical's place on the radio here is not exclusive. He recalls what singer and conductor Bobby McFerrin said during a visit to Anchorage, that listening to only one kind of music is like living in just one room of your house. KLEF keeps the classical room open to everyone in Anchorage -- and anywhere else on-line.

What delights him, Goodfellow said, is when someone who knows "next to nothing" about classical music calls the station, excited, wanting to know what they've just heard and where they could find it. That's when Goodfellow can say "Come in the room, look around..."

And listen. Happy anniversary, KLEF. Here's to the next 25.

-- Frank Gerjevic

By Frank Gerjevic