Kent State’s Board of Trustees Approves Entering Into Public Service Operation Agreement With Ideastream Public Media to Manage, Operate WKSU
The Kent State University Board of Trustees gave approval for the university to enter into a public service operating agreement with Ideastream Public Media for the management and operations of the WKSU stations at its Sept. 15 meeting. Under the agreement, Kent State would continue to be the license holder of WKSU and its sister stations, and Ideastream Public Media will provide operating oversight of the stations.
The agreement is expected to go into effect Oct. 1, 2021. On that date, Ideastream Public Media will begin operating WKSU. Kent State will retain Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensing for WKSU. In 2022, WKSU will become the sole NPR news and information station in Northeast Ohio while Ideastream Public Media’s WCPN will shift to expand classical music service
The call letters will remain WKSU, and the station’s programming will still be found at 89.7 FM.
“We are pleased to be bringing two stellar media organizations together for the expansion of public news and information in Northeast Ohio,” said Kent State President Todd Diacon. “WKSU carries a long legacy of award-winning news coverage and, together with Ideastream, we would become the premier news and information source in the region. Most importantly, our collaboration would result in even more learning and talent development opportunities for our students.”
WKSU first went on the air on Oct. 2, 1950, with one antenna – its signal barely reached the edge of the Kent Campus. Today, WKSU is a powerhouse, award-winning, NPR affiliate radio station, with the largest public radio service in Ohio.
Under the new agreement, all WKSU employees would receive an offer of employment of similar responsibility and compensation from Ideastream Public Media, and the Kent State president would have a voting seat on the Ideastream Public Media Board of Trustees.
Following a phased approach to transition, both WKSU and WCPN will continue to operate as separate NPR news and information stations for the time being while staffs come together to develop plans for combining newsroom resources and operations to expand service. The organizations will also seek input from the community to assess needs. More information and opportunities for community engagement will be shared as they become available.
“WKSU has always had an unwavering commitment to providing timely, relevant and important news to the university community, and that will continue as part of this agreement,” said Wendy Turner, general manager of WKSU. “The journalists and other professionals with both outlets will begin to work together to create one of the most powerful news and information outlets in the country. Kent State and Ideastream Public Media are committed to continuing and enhancing quality public radio and award-winning news coverage throughout Northeast Ohio.”
The agreement will expand local reporting and journalism resources for Northeast Ohio, increase coordination of editorial efforts, and expand and diversify geographic and topical coverage of local and statewide issues, particularly in underserved communities.
Going forward, programming and local content services provided by the stations will reflect the regional diversity of Northeast Ohio.
The results of an analysis conducted with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting reinforced the benefits of WKSU and Ideastream Public Media leveraging resources and expertise for the growth and expansion of public media service in Northeast Ohio.
One example is the recently completed collaboration called Learning Curve. Both entities recognized the need to refortify public service reporting in Northeast Ohio and continued to discuss ways to leverage these two strong public media organizations for the benefit of listeners in the region.
Kent State and Ideastream Public Media are committed to continuing and enhancing quality public radio and award-winning news coverage throughout Northeast Ohio. The two organizations will work together to foster the next generation of journalists and ensure cultural diversity through engagement with the university’s colleges, faculty and students.