Las Vegas university opts to keep control of radio station

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The University of Nevada, Las Vegas will continue to operate its jazz station after a proposal to outsource management to Nevada Public Radio prompted a backlash from students.

The Nevada System of Higher Education’s board of regents had decided in December 2015 to delay consideration of a proposal from Nevada Public Radio to take over the station, KUNV-FM. Nevada Public Radio would have assumed responsibility for management, programming and operation of the station. It had also proposed changing KUNV’s format to “music discovery.”

At a regents’ meeting earlier this month, the board announced that KUNV will continue its affiliation with the university’s journalism school, according to a briefing paper from the meeting. The university’s student government had opposed the Nevada Public Radio proposal and provided a $50,000 sponsorship to the radio station, according to the briefing paper. The university had cited the cost of running the station as one factor in its considerations of transferring management.

“I want to continue to give the students and faculty and their community constituents a chance to make the station better,” said UNLV President Len Jessup, according to an audio recording of the meeting.

Jessup said the university has also been working on “re-envisioning” the station to make it more self-sustaining and to increase student involvement. “That wasn’t as much as it needed to be with the current operation and wasn’t enough with the KNPR proposal as well,” he said. KUNV is run by a mix of paid staff, community volunteers and students.

The plan isn’t perfect yet but “is pretty good,” said Jessup, who added that the station has doubled student participation at the station.

The station also plans to increase “fundraising capacity” and develop “a cutting-edge public programming initiative that embraces community diversity, learning, and discovery,” according to the briefing paper.

  • Dave Martin

    KUNV needs to dump the smooth jazz and go Triple A. Something like KCSN or KCRW in Los Angeles. Both of these radio stations are run by universities in Southern California.

    • MarkJeffries

      Well, KCRW is technically owned by a junior college.

      If the jazz audience is supporting the station (and that hasn’t really been discussed in all of this), I see no reason to change. Since like the classical audience, jazz audiences don’t watch prime time television (in particular the mainstream jazz audience, which was what they were playing at night), I would assume that there was much screaming from the jazz fans when they gave late night over to the students and indie rock. As for the much-maligned smooth jazz (which does sound sexier than the more correct term of “contemporary pop instrumentals”), it has been dropping from commercial radio steadily for the last decade and if the basic tenet of non-commercial media is to do what commercial media can’t or won’t do, playing Kenny G is just as valid as playing the Lumineers.