KCPT to purchase The Bridge: sale pending FCC approval

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by ELLEN BECKER, Managing Editor—
Kansas City Public Television is looking to buy the university’s 100,000-watt FM radio station for $1.1 million and move its studio to Kansas City.
The University of Central Missouri Board of Governors signed a letter of intent April 18 to transfer the broadcasting license ownership of 90.9 KTBG The Bridge to KCPT. The sale is pending FCC approval.
“In 2011, we conducted an extensive administrative review and looked at all the different ways we could meet our strategic priorities while also saving money and meeting our mission needs,” said Jeff Murphy, assistant director for UCM Media Relations. “KTBG was one of the items we looked at. We had to consider whether it was in the best interest of the university to continue to operate a radio station on campus.
“In the long run, it will save us money that is applied every year out of our budget to help fund the radio station. That will go back into the general fund to help support our mission.”
The FCC did not respond to calls from The Muleskinner by press time. Jon Hart, program coordinator for
KTBG, was also unavailable for comment.
KCPT is seeking to purchase the rights to operate on the 90.9 FM frequency. The purchase will also include transmission equipment, the call letters KTBG and any Internet addresses associated with the station.
“We don’t know at this point when that will actually take place,” Murphy said of the sale. “The formal transfer could take weeks or months. It all depends on the FCC at this point.”
The station is also going to air campus programs produced by KMOS-TV, and give $550,000 worth of promotional underwriting to help support the university.
Murphy said it is more than just a transfer of ownership.
“This is the beginning of a new relationship with KCPT,” he said. “One of the good things about this new cooperative agreement is that our students will be given opportunities for internships in production and management. It’s a chance to get our students involved in a major metropolitan market and get some good experience that will look good on their résumé.”
After the transfer, KCPT plans to create its own studio facilities in Kansas City for the radio station.
“They are going to go through a process of moving their tower so that it will cover a greater distance,” Murphy said. “It will cover everything that KTBG currently covers, but also a major part of the metro area.”
The space that currently houses KTBG in the Wood Building on campus will be used by KMOS-TV.
Through the transfer, KCPT will be responsible for staff decisions. There are currently two full-time employees at KTBG. Four individuals work half time for KTBG and half time for KMOS-TV.
“KCPT has indicated that it will make a few hires, and UCM employees at KTBG will be eligible to apply,” Murphy said. “UCM Broadcasting Services will also continue to evaluate its staffing needs.”
Although there will be many changes, fans of The Bridge should not worry.
“People in the area that really enjoy the music format of KTBG probably won’t notice a major change,” Murphy said. “KCPT knows we have some loyal listeners and they want to make sure that they continue to keep them as listeners of KTBG in the future.”
KCPT will continue the station’s Adult Album Alternative music format, but will discontinue the news and talk content and UCM sports programming.
The radio station will continue to be supported by listeners.
Kliff Kuehl, CEO and president of KCPT, said they see this as a good opportunity to extend the reach of KCPT into the community and develop new relationships with its public media partners in Warrensburg.
“KTBG has developed a strong following of listeners with an exceptional programming lineup of music and local services,” Kuehl said in a news release. “We’re thrilled to be able to share this community asset with an even greater audience in the Kansas City region.”
UCM President Charles Ambrose said he is pleased with the overall agreement with KCPT.
“In conjunction with transferring ownership of KTBG, we are also establishing an exciting, multidimensional relationship with KCPT and the Kansas City community, which will greatly benefit both parties,” Ambrose said in a news release.
Announcements will be made prior to the official change in ownership.
“We want to make the process as smooth as possible,” Murphy said.