With top 250 countdown, KUSC and KDFC give classical music the California touch

For the first time ever, the USC-owned radio stations are playing back the 250 most beloved classical songs as voted on by listeners in the debut of the Classical California Ultimate Playlist.

September 30, 2020 Ron Mackovich-Rodriguez

Top 40 countdowns, top 10 lists and “10 best” compilations have grabbed attention and clicks for decades, though they’re not often affiliated with classical music. Now, KUSC-FM in Los Angeles and USC Radio Group’s KDFC-FM in San Francisco have lined up the 250 most popular pieces of classical music based on votes by listeners across the state.

“We wanted to do something different and have our listeners choose their own favorite ultimate playlist,” said Judy McAlpine, president of USC Radio Group. “This is the first time we’ve done something like this, and the response was beyond our expectations. More than 12,000 votes came in, including many votes for diverse composers.”

The voting, which was open from mid-August to mid-September, allowed listeners to choose up to three selections. Polls were conducted on Facebook and Instagram.

The top 250 classical music pieces are playing this week, leading up to No. 1 on Friday evening. The playlist unfolds on KUSC and KDFC’s websites and apps, and the whole countdown will be available as the Classical California Ultimate Playlist online stream starting Friday night at 7 p.m.

The playlist coincides with a big move forward for the USC Radio Group. KDFC, the Bay Area’s only classical music radio station, is launching a $5 million campaign to fund a new station space and launch programs to connect classical music to the community. The Batishwa Miner Broadcast Center is scheduled to open in early 2021 and will be housed at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s new Bowes Center.

The USC Radio Group is a network of 10 classical-music stations across California.