- KERA radio story:
- KERA announcement about the new station purchase.
- Expanded online story:
KERA is launching a second public radio station that will broadcast music. KERA’s board of directors has agreed to pay $18 million dollars to Covenant Educational Media for the licensing and transmission properties of 91.7, which currently airs religious programming. We have two stories with more information. Jerome Weeks has more about the unique music format. But first, KERA’s Shelley Kofler reports on what lead to the acquisition.
Music is the sound of things to come when KERA launches its new music station by the fall of this year.
You’ll hear Texas artists, world and ethnic music, singer-songwriters, and more. KERA President and CEO Mary Anne Alhadeff says the new 91.7 will broadcast a format known as Triple A- adult album alternative.
Alhadeff: “It’s a wonderful combination including acoustic, jazz, reggae, a very broad ranging kind of music service. We’ll be hearing public radio style interviews with the artists, learning about the music, learning about the artists the artistic process. I think it will be a very rich musical discovery process.”
KERA broadcast music until 13 years ago when 90.1 shifted to a news and information format. Alhadaff says this second station allows KERA to continue focusing 90.1’s programming on news while providing a public broadcasting style of music that will add an under 40’s audience.
The new 91.7 will air music round the clock, sometimes hosted by local announcers, some automated. Alhadeff says it will include nationally distributed programs, but also showcase local, North Texas talent.
Alhadeff: “Here at KERA we have a performance studio that hasn’t been used much in recent years, so we’re really excited about inviting bands and local artists in to perform for us.”
Chief Financial Officer Jason Daisey says KERA became aware of the opportunity to acquire another non-commercial license over a year ago, and has since been researching the economics and the fit.
Daisey says the timing was right for KERA after having a cash surplus for four years. He says KERA was able to finance the $18 million purchase through three lenders that specialize in non-profits. He says this expansion of programming is an opportunity to expand future revenues, as well.
Daisey: “It makes sense to the bottom line of KERA by allowing us to generate a new audience that brings in new people to the public radio family and hopefully new revenue and contributions and new sponsors out there in the local business community to help us both afford the service and become more valuable to the community as it moves forward.”
The launch date for the music station depends on when the Federal Communications Commission approves the sale. Station call letters must still be chosen. And the music programs must be selected.
KERA’s Jerome Weeks talked to North Texas artists about what the new station will offer:
By Jerome Weeks
North Texas’ newest public radio station will broadcast a music format known as Adult Album Alternative, or Triple A.
What will it sound like?
Dave Chaney is the editor of triplearadio.com, a resource website. Chaney has followed this format for years, yet he struggles for a definition.
CHANEY: “There is no easy way to describe it. Nevertheless, rock, rock-blues, reggae, elements of Americana in there, obviously. No, it’s maddening.”
It’s not easy to pin down the format because Triple A radio grew out of both the classic album stations of the ’70s as well as the alternative rock format that developed in the ’80s, says Chaney. And Adult Album Alternative can encompass different flavors in different regions. Zydeco and Cajun music in Texas and Louisiana, gospel and blues, or alternative country and independent rock in other areas. Examples of this format in non-commercial stations around the country include WXPN (home of World Cafe) and KEXP in Seattle.
Much of this music is not currently featured on major commercial stations. Chaney explains.
CHANEY: “Long story short, it takes a long time to build up an audience. The corporations don’t have that kind of patience. And they can’t afford to have that kind of patience.”
KERA is committed to including local programming on the new station. And it’s the local flavor that makes the Triple A format important to an area’s music scene. Especially to bands who don’t fit into typical popular formats. Carl Finch is the leader of Brave Combo, the well-known Denton polka band. He remembers when KERA changed its format in 1996.
FINCH: “The loss of regular music programming on KERA was a big blow to us and a lot of other bands that played music that didn’t fit comfortably into the Americana umbrella. So to have a station, a local station especially that’s reaching out more for that sort of thing is the difference between night and day.”
While the music may vary in Triple A, Chaney says that across the country, the people listening to the format remain roughly the same: They are split equally between men and women in their mid-30s to early ’50s.
CHANEY: “Stations like this new one are really one of the few under-reported success stories out there in the commercial world because it’s been nothing but bad news, and in the non-commercial world, so many stations are taking a hard look at the success of these Triple A stations because all of sudden they’re grabbing a more active audience and a younger audience, which is important to public radio.”
Tim Delaughter, the leader of the Dallas group, Polyphonic Spree, explains very simply what the increased airplay could mean for local musicians.
DELAUGHTER: “This is big. It’s been missing for so long.”
But Carl Finch brings it back to what a lot of area musicians might be wondering about themselves.
FINCH: “You’re wanting to let me know that you’re going to devote an hour a day to Brave Combo?”
Finch image from Prostband, Polyphonic image from Indiealymoly.