Northern Kentucky University has announced plans to acquire 105.9 WPFB AM/FM and 104.1 WPAY FM to form a network of stations that will broadcast the 89.7 WNKU public radio signal to more than 3.3 million people.
The $6.75 million acquisition, which will be funded over 20 years, puts the 25-year-old station on a direct path to complete financial self-sufficiency by dramatically increasing its geographic reach within the region and more than tripling its current population footprint.
NKU President Dr. James Votruba acknowledged that some may question the timing of the move, given the university’s continuing funding challenges and the state’s sluggish economy, but said these factors are part of what makes now the right time for WNKU to expand. “Frankly, if the economy weren’t in its current state, there is no way we could afford to do this,” he said. “The price is right, right now. We were presented with an opportunity that we could not pass up.”
Votruba added that “the move will, literally, not only pay for itself, but also reduce and eventually eliminate the money NKU spends annually operating the station.”
Each year, about $300,000 of the station’s $1.1 million operating budget comes from the university. The rest comes from grants, member donations and underwriting.
WNKU is currently listened to by about 55,000 people each week and has a population coverage of about 1 million people. The acquisition will expand the station’s signal into 16 Kentucky counties not currently served by the station and will extend from Dayton, Ohio, to beyond Ashland, Ky.