GOSHEN -- Goshen College's radio station is giving up classical music.
Starting Monday morning, WGCS's announcers, many of them students, will call it 91.1 The Globe and play Americana music, which includes blues, folk, roots rock and bluegrass, and what's known as world music.
The switch at 91.1 FM could be a shock for longtime listeners, but with two other classical music stations in the market, station manager Jason Samuel believes the new format is the right thing to do. "We don't need three stations broadcasting classical music," he said.
Karl Haas' "Adventures in Good Music," which has been on the station for decades, will give way to shows like "World Cafe" and "Acoustic Cafe." Most of the time, Bob Dylan will take over for Bach. Duane Stoltzfus, associate professor of communication and Samuel's boss, said the station will work with the college's music department to broadcast on-campus classical performances.
Dylan and other folk musicians have been heard on the 6,000-watt radio station for the last 10 years. Students and local volunteers have done "Crossings" shows from 7 to 11 most nights. Announcers are heard more during such shows than when they're announcing classical music, said Nick Gingerich, a Middlebury resident who will be the student manager this fall. Classical pieces tend to be longer and provide fewer announcing opportunities.
He's excited about the switch. "I want radio to be my profession in the future. I didn't see as much practical application on the classical side as the folk side," he said.
Gingerich wasn't familiar with folk music before he started at the station his freshman year, but has become a fan. "It's an underexposed genre and there's so much great music out there," he said.
Gingerich said he's a little worried about the calls that will come when the format changes, but knows that some of the station's older listeners enjoy the singer-songwriters as well. "If we lose those (classical) listeners, it saddens me that we lose listeners at all, but it's a move in the right direction," he said.
The station faced stiff competition from stations at Andrews University and the University of Notre Dame, said Stoltzfus. "As with all radio stations, we would like to develop a distinct form of programming that builds a large and loyal following. We believe that will happen with our shift to Americana and world music."
The format connects with the vibrant local bluegrass and folk scene and the college's commitment to develop global citizens and promote international studies, said Stoltzfus.
A growing number of stations use the Americana -- or adult album alternative -- format, said Samuel. Seventy-two stations report to the Americana Music Association, whose top 40 list will guide much of the locally produced daytime shows.
The station started in 1958 with classical programming. It has had some contemporary Christian and late-night student shows. Momento do Gozo, a Hispanic music program, has aired from 6 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and will continue to do so.
College Mennonite Church worship services also will remain on the air. The station will continue to air GC sports, having done 60 basketball games this year.
Samuel, a 1993 GC grad, worked in local radio before becoming station manager 10 months ago. He's passionate about radio and is looking for ways for students to learn more about the medium. About 50 are involved in the station during the school year. He wants to ignite their creativity. "A contemporary format is going to give them (more) advantages and opportunities than what we're giving them now," he said.
A task force researched a possible switch and made a recommendation to switch formats, which GC President Shirley Showalter and her council approved.