Blue Ridge Public Radio to expand news service with frequency swap

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BPR Tech

A BPR transmitter in Macon County, N.C.

Blue Ridge Public Radio in Asheville, N.C., is preparing to swap the frequencies of its news and classical channels. 

BPR announced on Monday that it will switch programming on its 20 signals overnight on Oct. 31. The change, dubbed the “Big Switch,” will increase the reach of BPR News, its 24/7 news and information service, to an additional 250,000 listeners.  

“The need and demand for trusted news in our region continues to grow steadily,” CEO Jeffrey Pope said in a press release. “High-quality, fact-based journalism has never been more important to help people make informed decisions for themselves and their communities. With the Big Switch, BPR is investing in our news department and programming so new and longtime listeners can look forward to a stronger, more reliable radio signal for BPR News.” 

The total number of frequencies airing news programming will grow from seven to 13 signals that reach 525,000 listeners, according to the release. BPR Classic, its classical music service, will reduce its broadcast footprint to seven frequencies. 

“This strategic decision is a win-win for BPR and listeners in our region,” said John Noor, BPR board chair, in the release. “BPR News gains stronger reach, and residents gain greater access to lifesaving information and crucial world-class journalism from BPR’s local news team, as well as NPR, the BBC and other public media outlets.”

In an FAQ about the switch, BPR explained that it has to operate 20 different frequencies to carry its broadcasts across the “challenging” mountainous terrain of western North Carolina. 

“Unfortunately, at this time we are unable to cover the entire region with both services, therefore some listeners will not be able to receive the broadcast station of their choice after the switch,” the station said in the FAQ.

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