Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I was born and raised in flyover country, the heartland of America that stretches for miles across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. The sky is literally the limit there. Public radio is treasured in many remote places because it brings in ideas and connections to entire world.

To read the definitive book about my experience growing up in Sioux Falls, SD, check out Chris Harper’s Flyover Country [amazon link].

Harper is a journalism professor at Temple University who spent years writing and reporting for ABC News, Newsweek, The Washington Times and many others. But I know Harper best from the days when I managed and promoted his band The Trippers, back in the days of Sex (infrequent), Drugs (not many) and Rock n Roll (crank it up to “11”).  Check out his blog – Media Mashup – at [link].


 Wyoming Public Media, based in Laramie (population 40,000) is today debuting a new Triple A channel – Wyoming Sounds - in three Wyoming communities. The programming will originate on an HD channel and be repeated on FM translators in Laramie (103.5 FM), Riverton (90.5 FM) and Worland (94.1 FM). More communities in the state will get Wyoming Sounds in the near future.

Wyoming Sounds will feature Grady Kirkpatrick’s popular Morning Music program as well as programing by Paul Montoya and Micah Schweizer.

Kirkpatrick was PD at WNKU, Cincinnati before he moved to Wyoming. Kirkpatrick took the time to answer a few questions:

Grady Kirkpatrick

Describe Wyoming Sounds. What will be different than the nearby 105.5 The Colorado Sound?


The obvious difference is that we play Wyoming artists but we also include Colorado and regional artists. We lean slightly more Americana while including a generous portion of established and new Triple A artists.


In some ways this is a return to Triple A for you after leaving WNKU.  In what ways is it different to program Triple A in a rural, sometimes remote area? 


Programming Triple A in a primarily rural state is a bit different with the preference for Americana but Wyomingites also really appreciate the variety that the Triple A format offers. People still enjoy great music whether they’re in Buffalo, Wyoming or Buffalo NY.


You've worked in big markets and small markets. How important is public radio in flyover country?


Public radio is very important in Wyoming. We have an incredibly loyal membership base. People appreciate being in touch with what’s happening in our state and around the world.

KEN: What about working and living in Wyoming --- what are the positives and negatives?


The best thing about working in Wyoming is the wide-open spaces and small town atmosphere around the entire state. The saying goes, “Wyoming is like a small town with really long streets. However, options for good French restaurants are slightly limited. 

But, do try the “Rocky Mountain Oysters.


 High Plains Public Radio (HPPR), based in Garden City, Kansas (population 26,966) is one of the gutsiest public media DIY efforts in the nation. Since 1980 this community-based operation has grown like thickets across the prairie bringing sustainable public radio programming to listeners in portions of five states.

The map on the right shows geographical reach of HPPR. The regional network began with one station, KANZ-FM in Garden City. Today HPPR programming is carried on more than three-dozen repeaters and translators. HPPR is the sole source of NPR News and other noncom programming in many places. This makes HPPR valuable to listeners and vulnerable to changing winds of funding.

But, HPPR has adapted and often thrived in this challenging environment. According to financial reports posted on HPPR’s website [link], the 5013c KANZA Society had $1,3 million in revenue during FY 2015. Only 20% came from CPB and the State of Kansas. HPPR generated $403,000 from pledging and $219,000 in underwriting in 2015, which tops some big city stations.

In the late 1990s HPPR expanded its to service to Amarillo, Texas, at the time the largest city in the nation without an NPR presence. Amarillo (metro population 240,000) is by far the largest city in HPPR’s region.

Amarillo Skyline at Sunset
According to Executive Director, Deborah Oyler, HPPR is now configuring their two FM signals in Amarillo to allow 94.9 FM to air 24/7 news programming. 105.9 will continue to repeat HPPR’s dual format of NPR News and Classical music. This will allow 94.9 to program some hours separately. 

Oyler says that 94.9 will be adding Texas Standard and popular NPR shows like Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me, which are not heard now in Amarillo.

When announcing the new station, Oyler told an Amarillo TV station:

“It’s exciting for us that a city the size of Amarillo can have an NPR News station. From a quality of life or economic development perspective this gives Amarillo a great marketing tool.”

No comments:

Post a Comment