KCUR adds station to fill void of classical music in Kansas City

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KCUR in Kansas City, Mo., has acquired a station to begin broadcasting an all-classical music service in the spring.

The station is KWJC at 91.9 MHz in Liberty, Mo. The Curators of the University of Missouri, KCUR’s licensee, will purchase the signal for $2 million from William Jewell College, according to the asset purchase agreement. The deal is pending FCC approval.

KWJC had been leased to a Christian broadcaster but is currently silent.

The public broadcaster wants to bring classical music back to Kansas City’s airwaves, said Stephen Steigman, KCUR’s chief of broadcast operations. 

“We saw an opportunity to fill a void since the departure of KXTR-FM, a commercial classical station, nearly 20 years ago,” Steigman said. “We envision our new service as much more than a classical music radio station: This project is intentionally designed to be local, bringing exposure to the numerous high-quality performing arts organizations in Kansas City.” 

KWJC’s signal originates from a tower in Independence, Mo., and will remain there when the sale is finalized. The classical station’s staff will work from KCUR’s headquarters at the University of Missouri — Kansas City.

The 7,000-watt KWJC covers a large portion of Kansas City. To expand the reach of the classical service, the station plans to add an HD-2 frequency to KCUR’s 100 kW signal, he said.

“We recognize that more and more listeners are consuming a station’s signal through a smart speaker or another internet stream,” Steigman said. He said he believes that listeners will tune in to hear music and stories from musicians in the Kansas City region. 

KCUR has been raising funds to cover purchasing the station, a new transmitter and studio equipment. It also seeks funds to support the station’s first few years of operational expenses, Steigman said. KCUR has already raised foundation grants that have put it more than halfway toward its $5 million goal.

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