Contemporary music on WOI?

Iowa Public Radio buys 2 signals, may shuffle formats

Iowa Public Radio will add stronger classical music signals for Des Moines with the purchase of two commercial FMs. The state network is paying $1.75 million for KZHZ 105.9 and KZHC 96.3 from Connoisseur Media of Westport, Conn.

With the added signals, IPR lays the groundwork for a bigger possible change: potentially adopting a new format for WOI-FM 90.1 in Ames, one of the network's flagship signals, which now splits its broadcast days between news and classical music.

The acquisition is a strategic one for IPR as it faces a 2016 deadline to become self-supporting, said Mary Grace Herrington, executive director. Since the 2004 merger that brought pubradio services of three Iowa universities under the umbrella nonprofit Iowa Public Radio its mixed-format service from KUNI in Cedar Falls has become its best performer, with news in the daytime and Studio One contemporary alternative music in the evening. But it lacks a reliable signal to serve Des Moines, the state's capital and biggest city.

"By securing these stations, we'll have classical covered and can rearrange what we're doing on our 90.1 flagship for central Iowa," she said. "Now we have the opportunity to consider flipping the format on 90.1."

Formal decisions about programming changes won't occur until the next meeting of IPR's board, in mid-October, she said, when IPR management proposes specific service changes and presents projections about their impact on revenues and spending.

IPR is buying the stations with a combination of funds from its capital and operating budgets and a loan secured through Iowa State University, which will hold the licenses.

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