KUNR in Reno, Nev., is looking to breathe new life into a sibling station across the state with the addition of local news and other community-based programming.
KUNR established KNCC in Elko in 1992 with plans for it to be based at Northern Nevada Community College, now Great Basin College. KNCC was to provide local reporting and cultural shows, including programs for the city’s large Basque community and other content derived from partnerships with local arts organizations.
But funding issues and administrative turnover prevented those plans from being realized. The station has instead been rebroadcasting KUNR, which is licensed to the University of Nevada, Reno. Now, with help from UNR’s Reynolds School of Journalism, the station aims to capitalize on the dormant potential.
“Local journalism transcends politics,” said Brian Duggan, GM of KUNR and KNCC. “I think people need to know what’s going on in their backyard. And I think Elko is an ideal spot for us to try to build that.”
Alan Stavitsky, faculty dean of the Reynolds School, had been pushing since before the pandemic for KNCC to serve its original purpose. Now that the plan to revive it is in motion, he said, KUNR is working on getting funding and community support for the project.
“We’re just trying to get to where we were supposed to be at the beginning,” Stavitsky said.
KNCC will continue to operate as part of KUNR. Its local content is expected to debut in the fall after KUNR finds an Elko-based journalist to report for the station. Ideally, it will add more programming after raising the needed funds, Duggan said.
In addition to providing “bread-and-butter” news to the Elko community, Duggan said, the station will also expand KUNR’s ability to report on news across Nevada.
“Our mission here at KUNR is to educate our listeners about their community. Our community is our state, right?” Duggan said. “For people to really understand what’s going on on that side of the state, we need journalism from there.”
KNCC held an open house May 11 for its new studios on Great Basin College’s campus. Duggan said there are plans for another open house June 22 to encourage community interest in the station.
Stavitsky said that during the open house, he spoke to governmental and business leaders as well as members of Elko’s arts and educational communities. Some people he spoke to were in Elko when KNCC was first established and are excited to see the station expand, he said.
“It’s been very rewarding to see how the Elko community has welcomed this project,” Stavitsky said.
Gail Rappa, coordinator for GBC’s Humanities Center, attended the first open house and said there was mutual excitement for a potential partnership between the center and KNCC.
The center provides humanities-focused discussions, presentations and performances to the Elko community. Rappa said she hopes KNCC will not just promote those events but also offer its own programming focused on arts and humanities in rural communities.
The Humanities Center aims to “change the perception of what it means to live in a rural area,” Rappa said. She feels the station can be a tool towards that goal.
“We can only benefit from more local programming, whether it’s arts and humanities or news or whatever direction they’re going to focus on,” Rappa said. “And I think the more that we can give a voice to our local citizens and also our local talent, the better that we can represent the diversity in the rural areas to our nonrural neighbors.”