Karl Haas, 91, a radio personality who for more than half a century shared his love of classical music with listeners around the world, died Feb. 6 at William Beaumont Hospital in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak. No cause of death was given.
Mr. Haas's syndicated program, "Adventures in Good Music," for many years attracted the largest audience of any classical music radio program in the world and was carried by hundreds of stations in the United States, Canada, Australia, Mexico and Panama and on Armed Forces Radio.
Karl Haas's syndicated program, "Adventures in Good Music," attracted the largest audience of any classical music program.
In Washington, WGMS (103.5 FM) carried "Adventures in Good Music" until the mid-1990s. Program director Jim Allison said it was the station's most popular program through about the mid-1980s.
"It's still our highest-rated program," said Robert Conrad, president of WCLV-FM in Cleveland, which began syndicating the program in 1970.
"Karl Haas had the unique knack of being able to convey his love and knowledge of classical music to an audience that, for the most part, wasn't all that familiar with it," Conrad said. "But instead of bringing the music down to them, he brought them up to the music. He was like Leonard Bernstein in that respect."
Mr. Haas, a native of Speyer-on-the-Rhine, Germany, began taking piano lessons from his mother at age 6. A few years later, he formed a piano trio with boyhood friends.
He fled Nazi Germany in 1936 and settled with his family in Detroit, where he taught piano and commuted to New York to study with the renowned pianist Arthur Schnabel. He also founded the Chamber Music Society of Detroit in 1944. From 1967 to 1971, he served as president of the Interlochen Academy of the Arts in Interlochen, Mich.
His broadcast career began in 1950 at WWJ in Detroit, where he hosted a weekly program previewing concerts by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In 1959, station WJR, also in Detroit, debuted "Adventures in Good Music," an hour-long program in which Mr. Haas played the music he loved and, in a warm and distinctive German-accented voice, talked about the music with his listeners.
Conrad, who had met Mr. Haas in Detroit in 1962, moved to Cleveland and helped him get his program syndicated at WCLV in that city. He said listeners enjoyed not only Mr. Haas's vast knowledge of music but also his punning program titles, including "The Joy of Sax," "No Stern Unturned" and "Baroque and in Debt."
Conrad said a farmer once told him he listened to the show every day on his tractor.
Mr. Haas stopped doing new shows two years ago, but the program airs in reruns on about a hundred stations in the United States and Australia. Conrad said WCLV will continue to distribute the program.
Mr. Haas received two George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Humanities Charles Frankel Award in 1991. He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago in 1997.
His wife, Trudie, died in 1977.
Survivors include three children and two granddaughters.