Public radio station expands reach in Southeast region

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Public radio station KRCU already bills itself as Southeast Public Radio, but it will be more deserving of the name once work on a radio tower in Farmington, Mo., is complete and the station can reach twice as many radio listeners.

"We'll reach over 100,000 people," said station manager Dan Woods.

The new tower and antenna will allow the station to reach listeners in Farmington, Park Hills and nearby areas, as well as cities just south of St. Louis County like Festus and Arnold.

"KRCU listeners will be able to listen to KRCU programming up until St. Louis," Woods said. "We'll cover the I-55 strip from St. Louis County to New Madrid County. That's quite significant."

To hear KRCU in these expanded locations, however, listeners will have to tune to 88.9 KSEF-FM.

Once KSEF is on the air, "you're going to see us transform into Southeast Public Radio," Woods said. Although 90.9 KRCU-FM already goes by the name on occasion, it will be a permanent name once the two stations are broadcasting.

Right now the project is in its early stages. Construction bids for the tower and antenna went out last week and bids for the transmitter building will follow later.

Construction work is scheduled to begin in late June or early July, and KSEF is tentatively scheduled to go on air sometime in the fall.

The project is being paid for by a $220,568 matching grant KRCU received from Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, a U.S. Department of Commerce program that promotes the development of public broadcasting through matching grants.

The federal program covered 75 percent of the costs associated with the KRCU expansion, and the station pays 25 percent. To cover the station's portion of the expenses there will be a fund-raising campaign in the near future, Wood said.

Plans for expanding the station's signals really started in the late 1990s, Wood said, and were encouraged by studies pinpointing areas of the country without public radio coverage.

In the Farmington-Park Hills area "there's a significant population, 70,000 or so, that aren't able to get a reliable signal to a public radio station," he said.

KRCU increased its coverage area in March 2002 and added listeners in Sikeston, Mo., and Ste. Genevieve, Mo., when the station moved its Cape Girardeau radio tower from Henderson Street to an area north of the city and increased the antenna height.

kalfisi@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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