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Sally Buchanan Played A Vital Role In Developing KPAC

L to R: Founding KPAC members Wilford Stapp, J.C. Stromberger, Sally Buchanan

When Sally Buchanan, board chairwoman of the San Antonio River Authority, passed away on Saturday, July 30, she left a legacy of civic engagement and development that included work with the San Antonio Conservation Society, the Witte Museum, AIA San Antonio, and with her husband Bob, owner and operator of the downtown restaurants Kangaroo Court and The Original Mexican Restaurant.

Classical music fans can also thank Buchanan. In the 1980s, Sally Buchanan served as president of the Classical Broadcasting Society, the nonprofit operator of KPAC (then at 90.9 FM), that began broadcasting in November 1982. Later, Buchanan was instrumental in hatching a plan to combine efforts with another nonprofit broadcaster to get KSTX 89.1 FM on the air, thereby creating Texas Public Radio.

“One of my friends, Lynn Bobbitt, was very involved in the effort to get a public radio station on the air,” Buchanan remembered in a 2013 interview at the TPR studios. “We were both long-standing members of the Conservation Society. One day I was just sitting down with her and said ‘Lynn, we’ve got to get together on this. We will eat each other up if we do not join forces.’ As a result of that conversation… we decided to work a deal.”

Texas Public Radio was formed, and KSTX 89.1 FM went on the air in 1988, with newly-established General Manager Joe Gwathmey at the helm.

“It made it far more effective to have two stations [under one roof],” Buchanan explained. “You’re not paying for two administrations. You’re paying for one administration for two stations. I love cost-effective ratios, and that’s one of the best!”

Buchanan said she did most of her KPAC listening in the car. “I just find it creates such a pleasant atmosphere… regardless of how narrow those lanes are on I-10!”

She said in the wake of 9/11, KPAC 88.3 FM became a refuge for many. “People didn’t want to talk,” she remembered. “They wanted to hear music. And music really kind of filled a need. Just to hear something soothing, when we were undergoing such a terrible thing.”

That’s not to say classical music is only good for solace, Buchanan was quick to say. “On the flip side, when you’re very joyful, [classical music] can just make your soul soar. It speaks to a part of you that is not verbal, that is beyond emotion.”

Sally Buchanan will be remembered during the first hour of this week’s “Classics a la Carte” on KPAC 88.3 FM, beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 5.

KPAC's James Baker remembers Sally Buchanan through her own words.

Nathan has been with TPR since 1995, when he began working on classical music station KPAC 88.3 FM, as host of “Tuesday Night at the Opera.” He soon learned the ropes on KSTX 89.1 FM, and volunteered to work practically any shift that came his way, on either station. He worked in nearly every capacity on the radio before moving into Community Engagement, Marketing, and Digital Media. His reporting and criticism has been honored by the Houston Press Club and Texas Associated Press.