Classy Pat turns radio into a symphony

Iris Chinook
IVN Contributing Writer

Pat Mersman

Doing a classical music show for local community radio station KXCJ is a natural for long-time Valley resident Pat Mersman. Her childhood ears were bathed in classical music from radio and records. “Both of my parents were fond of opera, hence the Saturday morning ritual listening to broadcasts from the Met in New York City, as well as their collection of ‘78 rpm discs.”
Mersman, aka Classy Pat hosts “Old Growth Classical” in tandem with The Trainmaster aka Robert Hirning and lists her favorite things about hosting the show—in no particular order: “The fun of ruling the airwaves for a couple of hours (fame and glory); the companionship of The Trainmaster, who nagged me for a year or two to jump in and do it; and the feedback from listeners which makes me confident that I am not talking into a vacuum!” explained Mersman, adding, “Sharing the musical stage with Robert reinforces my respect for him as friend and neighbor. His collection of CDs is mine to use as needed. Both of us go to the Rogue Valley Symphony Concerts – he even volunteered as an usher one season. We have some of the same musical heroes (e.g. Bill Mcloughlin of NPR’s “Exploring Music”) but our actual CDs don’t overlap a lot, which turns out to be quite helpful.”
Known for her thoughtful and detailed introductions to the music Mersman said, “The details I incorporate into my current show’s narrative come from both my education and current online research. Once I have decided what music to play, I try to think as if I were a listener unfamiliar with the ‘back story’ of each piece. What would I want to know about the composer, the context, etc.? I don’t want to turn this project into an academic music history course, but I hope the tidbits I provide will enhance the listener’s enjoyment of the music itself.
“My selections for each monthly show on ‘Old Growth Classical’ are entirely selfish. I think about what I have available, what fits the mood of the season, what performers may be coming to the Rogue Valley’s concert series. If I hear something special on the radio, I will rush out and buy a CD whenever I can. As a sometime specialist in the music of the Classic and Baroque eras, I am delighted to bring the sounds of unfamiliar but wonderful composers, soloists, and ensembles to the Illinois Valley with completely uncensored help from KXCJ. ”
For decades, Mersman provided skilled piano instruction to Valley residents. “I did teach classical piano here, based on my own values and training with a seriously wonderful Bulgarian neighbor in the Bay Area, followed later by training in the Suzuki Piano method.”
Academically, Mersman was music major in college and later returned for a master’s degree specializing in the performance practices of early keyboards (clavichord, harpsicord and fortepiano).
Back in the day, Mersman was Lady Gossamer for Hope Mountain Radio and just for the record about her pirate radio years she said, “I’ve no clear recollection at all of when that was, nor of what stories, if any, I broadcast.”
“Old Growth Classical” airs on Sundays between 10 a.m. and noon. The show is also co-hosted by DJ Mama T.
Mersman wraps things up by saying, “I’m always asking for feedback and suggestions or requests. Do I talk too much? Too little? Are there selections you long to hear that I have not yet programmed? Do you have any CDs you would consider lending me or donating to the station for use on future programs? And of course the eternal question: What IS CLASSICAL MUSIC, anyway?!”
You can contact the station by calling 541-592-4112 during her show to let her know how she’s doing but wait until she quits talking to call.