Seven years ago, when KBAQ began broadcasting out of a cramped office space at Mesa Community College, local radio was caught in a classical drought. The Valley's lone classical station, KONC-106.3, had recently fallen off the commercial end of the dial to be replaced by the alt-rock ravings of KEDJ. For a few months there, the only chance you had to hear a harpsichord on local radio was when the oldies station played Gary Lewis and the Playboys' "Everybody Loves a Clown."
But KBAQ stepped into the breach, ably carrying the Valley's classical burden on its thin 3,000-watt signal. Careful but not conservative, KBAQ has mixed the gems of the 18th-century Viennese masters with smart nods to the modernists. It's also supported the local scene with frequent broadcasts of local chamber-music concerts and a splashy 1998 tribute to the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra on its 50th anniversary.
Best of all, this is one station where the DJs -- sorry, "music selectionists" -- don't sound like they're trying to shout you into submission or sell you a used car.
Readers' Choice: KBAQ-FM 89.5