I must say I continue to be very pleasantly amazed by the number of people who call, write and even stop me on the street to ask for updates on the new classical music radio station.
I had no idea Vivaldi and Mozart were quite so popular in this area. But I guess they've been going through Beethoven withdrawal pains ever since KFUO-FM left the air July 6, 2010, so they're eager to go Bach to the future. Unfortunately, my answer remains the same: It's coming -- it really is -- but you're going to have to be patient for a couple of months yet.
Trust me, nobody is more antsy to get this ship sailing than Jim Connett, the general manager of the Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis, which has put the new station together.
"If I knew how much work this was going to entail, I would have said yes -- but yes would have been a three-syllable word," he joked Thursday. "So, what can I say?"
When I last talked to him in November, he gave a tentative on-air date of around Valentine's Day. The word now is sometime in March. He just hopes you don't give up on him. The studio is all but finished and the music has been downloaded.
In fact, he said, the station could start sending out programming online and on HD (high-definition) radio right now, but he said the foundation is waiting until it receives its standard radio broadcast license as well. You can't rush the Federal Communications Commission -- and you don't want to antagonize them, either, by announcing a specific on-air date prematurely. So, right now, it's the old hurry-up-and-wait routine.
"I would say we're 99 percent complete," he said. "There's nothing out of line. I still wait for the FCC, but that's a lot closer, so we've done our filings and the like. We just have to wait until they push the button."
So, again, I urge everyone to periodically visit www.rafstl.org for the latest information. Also, I continue to warn everyone that the station's standard FM signal will reach only about 20 miles from the intersection of Hanley and Manchester roads in St. Louis, so many parts of the metro-east may be on the fringe of coverage -- or out of range altogether.
So, you may want to prepare yourself by buying an HD radio (the HD signal is expected to cover a 50-mile radius) or prepare to listen through your computer. As I mentioned previously, you already can enjoy round-the-clock classical music at KWMU-3, KWMU's Classical 90.7 HD station.
Disability follow-up: My recent column on parking placards for the disabled brought this interesting follow-up query from Rex Shanks, of Troy: A friend of his from Pennsylvania visits occasionally and wonders whether his Keystone State placard is valid here.
The short answer is yes, says Bill Bogdan, the disability liaison to the Illinois secretary of state. Illinois honors placards from not only all other states but other countries as well. Just recently, Bogdan told a woman from London that her placard would indeed be legit here.
Just make sure the placard is valid (some come with expiration dates) and that you follow the rules for parking in handicap spots as well as all local parking regulations. Bogdan said a disabled Ohio woman expressed surprise when she visited Illinois and was ticketed for parking in a fire lane.
Back to bock: Regarding my recent tutorial on bock beer, faithful reader Claude Barrow, of O'Fallon, bellied up to the bar to remind me that Anheuser-Busch/InBev also offers a class brew with its Michelob Amber Bock.
As he noted, it has been winning top awards at beer festivals since 1998 and is readily available in bars and restaurants as well as in supermarket liquor aisles.
"It's a great dark beer that I compare to several others," he said. "I really like it."
And, Jerry Whittle, of Belleville, wrote to say that Shiner Bock, produced by the Spoetzl (what a great German name!) Brewery in Shiner, Texas, is available at major supermarkets as well as specialty liquor stores.
"Shiner Bock was reputed to be Lance Armstrong's favorite beer until Michelob put him under contract," Whittle wrote. "Come to think about it, best not to mention Lance right now ... "
Good golly, Miss Molly: After I tried to explain why Abraham Lincoln called his wife both "Mary" and "Molly" in the movie "Lincoln," a Mascoutah "fan" who requested anonymity gently chided me for not simply consulting a dictionary.
Experts I found suggested that "Molly" was a pet name, but sure enough, according to Mr. Webster, Molly is simply a common diminutive form of Mary much as we use Dick for Richard and Bob for Robert. Polly, Poll, Moll and May are other popular nicknames for Mary.
Yes, I didn't know that.
Lost his brains: Now that the Hy-Ho Restaurant has closed, Ken Bruckner, of Belleville, is seeking a new source for his gastronomical treat -- the brain sandwich. Any ideas? Let me know.
On May 12, 1901, Connecticut enacted the first speed-limit law. How fast could drivers go?
Answer to Thursday's trivia: Had TV been around back then, "Downton Abbey" may have been a staple in the John Quincy Adams White House. In 1797, the future president married London-born Louisa Catherine Johnson, who would become the only first lady born outside the United States. Her mother was English, but her father was an American merchant from Maryland.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org