Monday, July 18, 2005

Some Akron Non-Comm Radio Changes Ahead?

File this one under "Widely Spread Rumor".

OMW hears that Kent State University's classical/NPR WKSU/89.7 Kent is getting antsy to expand, and wants to do so by buying another local non-commercial FM station.

The two most named suspects are Akron University's student-run rocker WZIP/88.1 Akron ("Z88"), and the Akron Public Schools' AAA-formatted WAPS/91.3 Akron ("91.3 The Summit"). If OMW were a betting window, we'd offer even money odds on WKSU picking up WZIP.

What would WKSU do with a second station? What many other pubcasters have done across the nation...split its current format into two full-time signals. For example: WKSU could buy 88.1, and move the NPR news/talk content there, turning 89.7 into a full-time classical station. That proverbial bus could be driven by the fact that Cleveland-market commercial classical WCLV/104.9 Lorain has an awful signal in pretty much the same parts of the Cleveland market where 89.7 has a strong signal. The east side of Cleveland - home to much of the city's fine arts community - has never forgiven WCLV for abandoning 95.5 (now Salem's CCM "95.5 The Fish").

If it's indeed the current WZIP that's caught in this deal, it could migrate to on-campus-only status, along with an Internet webcast. That's what Ferrum College in southwest Virginia did with its student-run WFFC, after selling the 89.9 FM over-air signal to Virginia Tech University for its "Radio IQ" NPR/BBC news/talk service.

We have no idea how soon any of this will happen, but it's sure making rounds in the local radio rumor we thought we'd give you a "heads up".

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