Friday, January 23, 2009

An Ohio Public Radio Merger

As in commercial radio, the Incredibly Awful Economy is starting to affect public radio as well.

That's what ultimately prompted a big move at Oxford's Miami University, where the university's NPR affiliate - WMUB/88.5 - will lose its original programming on March 1st.

Cincinnati Public Radio will operate it starting that date, and will program it as a repeater for its own NPR station, WVXU/91.7.

The Middletown Journal and the Dayton Business Journal have more, as does the university itself.

You might recall that CPR took over WVXU from Xavier University, the once quirky station acting as the original hub of the "X-Star Network" that reached from Southwest Ohio into lower Michigan. CPR's original station is WGUC/90.9, which is the classical music sister station to WVXU's NPR news and talk operation.

There's some talk that WVXU and CPR may establish a some sort of a news reporting presence in the Oxford/Butler County area, but at first, it appears WMUB's mission will be to serve as a simulcaster for the Cincinnati NPR station. Quoting the Middletown Journal article:

For at least the near-term, WMUB and WVXU will be simulcast, said Richard Campbell, Miami journalism director and chair of the WMUB Review Committee.

"We just don't know how it will all end up," he said. "The piece not fixed (in the agreement) is the journalism piece. I can imagine us being a kind of bureau for them that does stories on southwest Ohio and special stories for Butler County."

Though talk of Miami University letting WMUB go had been going on since 2007, the current worldwide economic crisis - and an expected large budget shortfall for the university - quickened the exploration. The deal between the university and CPR would save the school about $800,000 in direct and indirect costs, and result in jobs lost for 10 staff members - seven full-time workers and three part-time workers.

The Middletown Journal also reports a detail we hadn't seen elsewhere...that Antioch University's WYSO/91.3 Yellow Springs had originally been courted to take over WMUB, but the deal fell through...

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