Southern’s KLASS ACT

Michael Hagan of The Vinery Wine Shop and Jim West chat at the Klassix Society wine tasting.

Dani White

Michael Hagan of The Vinery Wine Shop and Jim West chat at the Klassix Society wine tasting.

Radio at Missouri Southern is supported, in part, by its fans, the Klassix Society.

Jeff Skibbe, general manager of KXMS 88.7, describes the group’s function as three-pronged: providing support to the radio station, classical music and to the University.

The Klassix Society is a nonprofit organization formed in 1990 by Jean Campbell, the promotions director for KXMS at the time.

The annual food and wine tasting benefit held last week is its primary event.

“It was a whizz-bang evening,” Skibbe said.

The weather slowed attendance, but a variety of supporters from the University and the community turned out. Proceeds from the evening will go towards the station.

“We typically raise a few thousand dollars,” Skibbe said. “It’s just as much a social event. It puts us in touch with our listeners.”

The personal connection gives him feedback. During the year, the Klassix Society raises funds for its other projects, like the $500 endowment towards the concertmaster’s chair for the Missouri Southern Symphony Orchestra.

Back at the station, a pair of blinking blue lights – each roughly the size of a fingertip – flicker among the cables and cords. The newly installed “noise harvesters” work to keep excess static from the airwaves.

“It’s taking that energy and converting it to light,” Skibbe said.

During the years he has been with the station, Skibbe has seen an increase in the radio reach of other neighboring institutions. Oklahoma State University, Missouri State University and Pittsburg State University all have radio affiliates nearby. Skibbe says extending their radio audience is one way schools compete for students.

“They all want students out of this market,” he said.

More than just a radio station, he says KXMS is a resource for professors on campus with 39,000 titles available.

KXMS also sponsors the Fine Arts Radio International Awards. Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony and host of the radio series, The MTT Files was the 2008 winner of the Karl Haas Prize for music education.

“We greatly appreciate the board members who worked tirelessly on behalf of the radio station and the University,” Skibbe said.