Is that new classical music station you've been writing about for months ever going to go on the air? -- S.L., of Belleville, et al.
This is one time when you'll want to be sure to touch that dial: At 10 a.m. Monday, April 8, Jim Connett finally will raise the baton on the new station being launched by the Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis.
"We're going to pop this thing on whether we're ready or not," Connett, the general manager, joked with me this week. "I am hoping everybody welcomes us with open arms."
For nearly three years, Connett has worked feverishly to fill the void left when the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod sold the old KFUO-FM. Connett was KFUO's programming director for nearly 20 years, and it was his job to bring down the curtain on the station with a final airing of Beethoven's 9th on July 6, 2010. The next morning, the new JOY-FM switched to Christian contemporary.
Now Connett is ready to serve his longhair fans again.
The studio is in suite 302 at 7711 Carondelet in Clayton, the same spot where Connett worked for WRTH and KEZK a quarter-century ago. Programming will be 24/7 classical with a dash of jazz and blues. The station will spotlight local arts groups with live performances and programming for youngsters on up. In addition to Connett, on-air personalities will include such St. Louis vets as Jim Doyle and Tom Sudholt.
There are three ways to hear the new station: On your standard FM radio, you can try tuning to 107.3, where it will be known officially as K297BI. This signal, however, will cover only a 20-mile radius from Hanley and Manchester, which means it will not reach much of the metro-east.
Your best shot at enjoying your symphonic favorites is with a high-definition radio at KIHT-FM (96.3)-HD2, which the foundation is leasing from Emmis Communications. This signal is expected to cover a 50-mile radius. And anyone with a computer can listen in at www.rafstl.org, where you'll soon find a programming schedule.
HD radios can be found in many electronics and department stores; go to www.hdradio.com for information and a list of local HD stations you probably didn't know existed.
And will Connett open the new station April 8 with Schiller's "Ode to Joy," too?
"It's a secret," he said coyly. "Gives people a reason to listen."
Do people still collect stamps? I have a lot of them, and some are very old. I am ready to get rid of them, and family members are not interested. I also have 15-20 old piano rolls to dispose of. -- R.L., of Columbia
With tweets, texts, and email all the rage, you might think the quaint practice of filling old stamp albums is going the way of snail mail. But that may not be the case, says Greg Bowers at Eagle Coin Stamp and Jewelry in O'Fallon.
"Recently it's been shown that it's actually kind of growing," Bowers told me recently. "And why is that? Because stamp collecting is the world's largest and most difficult jigsaw puzzle. There's no end to what you can really do with it.
"There are people coming in and spending 20 or 30 dollars for a bag of stamps and going home and that's their weekend entertainment. There are people who go out and buy a book of stamps and then go home and tear it apart and fill their own collection with what they find. I've found there's been a slight increase in that. It's less than 1 percent of my total business, but I still support the collector."
You didn't mention whether you're trying to sell them or just give them away. As I recommend to anyone trying to sell valuables, you always should try to get at least three or four appraisals to determine what might be a fair price.
You'd have a good chance to do that this weekend at the annual St. Louis Stamp Expo from 10-6 Saturday and 10-4 Sunday at the Renaissance Hotel at 9801 Natural Bridge in St. Louis. More than three dozen dealers from around the country have come to promote their love for all things philately in the biggest show of the year here.
You might also contact one of the area stamp clubs, including the Webster Groves Stamp Club and the Mound City Stamp Club. You can find meeting and contact information at www.mophil.org.
Otherwise, Bowers said he would be happy to at least look at your collection. Call him at 624-4418 or visit the store at 523 W. Highway 50 in O'Fallon.
I would imagine piano rolls would have a much more limited audience, so the only places that come to mind would be antique stores, listings on the Internet, or browsing through sites like www.player-care.com/usedroll.html#dealers to see if yours might be marketable. Of course, if any of my readers have other suggestions, I'll let you know.
Just before the Civil War, what was the U.S slave population?
Answer to Thursday's trivia: So how is a yam like a charm? They're both anagrams of months -- May and March.
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.