Higher frequencies: Changes and moves in store for St. Louis Public Radio and KDHX
For a little while, St. Louis Public Radio’s emerging building on Olive Street was easy to spot. But the bright red outer walls have been covered with black, making the building feel more like a giant, angular speaker, which seems appropriate.
Tim Eby, general manager, says the station's plan for now is to move from its home on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis by Father’s Day and to air from there the following Monday.
“We feel pretty excited about it,” he says.
The move to the Grand Center location has been fueled by a capital campaign with the goal of raising $12 million, Eby says. So far, they’re $2.5 million away from that goal, and funds from the university have helped their efforts.
The station's home has been at UMSL since it went on the air 40 years ago, Eby says, but with the move, they’ll be bringing UMSL along with three classroom spaces.
“It’s exciting, too, that UMSL is coming into the city with us,” says Eby.
The new space offers a state-of-the art facility that will let the station offer more local programming and more partnerships with the community, Eby says. And in the future, it may offer more public radio jobs, too.
“We’ll have space in our newsroom so that we can add more news staff as we continue to grow,” he says.
There’s also a community room where 100 people can watch live broadcasts.
Eby wasn’t sure what the plans are for the space they’re leaving, but on Sat., Sept. 15, the station will hold a public open house at its new location, and on Wed., Oct. 3, the day of the first presidential debate, they’ll host a live broadcast there of “Talk of the Nation.”
St. Louis Public Radio is also expanding its reach with the recently announced purchase of the public radio station in Quincy, Ill., WQUB 90.3. The sale, which is expected to be completed in the coming months, cost about $100,000. The station will be known as Quincy Public Radio and will offer listeners there St. Louis Public Radio’s programming, Eby says.
The station, owned by Quincy University, is up for sale because the university was no longer able to sustain operations, according to a press release from the university.
The staff in Quincy has been laid off already, Eby says, and at this point there are no plans to have any staff located in Quincy, but Eby said listeners there and in parts of Missouri, including Hannibal, would have access to the news of Missouri and Illinois.
The purchase of the station is part of a larger trend of big stations buying up smaller ones, sometimes through outright purchases and other times through management agreements.
Much of it has to do with the economy, Eby said, and universities finding they were putting significant money into running a station and deciding that money needed to be redirected toward academic programming.
The purchase has the potential to add a little more than 100,000 listeners to St. Louis Public Radio, Eby said.
Another move, another change
KDHX, St. Louis’ independent radio station, will also move to Grand Center, but not quite so soon.
Right now, according to Beverly Hacker, the station’s executive director, demolition is ongoing at the site of their new home on Washington. Hacker says they made the decision not to begin renovations until they reached a milestone in their capital campaign of $2.25 million. They’re not far from that, she says, and hope to begin in the summer or fall. Best-case scenario, she says, the station will be in its new spot by the first of the year.
The new space will offer a performance space and the chance to develop content for the station's second HD channel, which currently isn’t in use. They’ll also expand content online as well as partnerships with the community. Additionally, the front part of the building will house a cafe, Hacker says, which will also serve as the entrance to the station. The cafe will be run by the owners of Triumph Grill.
The pioneer for those community partnerships, co-executive director Nico Leone, recently announced he’d be leaving in August to take on a new job as the general manager for KCUR, Kansas City’s public radio station.
To listeners, his absence might not be noticeable, Hacker says. Leone was very good at his job and spearheaded their efforts at becoming more involved in the community and in fundraising, she said, but that other staff members would be taking over those roles.