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KMUW hopes listeners will support $100,000 campaign to buy equipment for Old Town move

KMUW General Manager Debra Fraser stands in front of KMUW's new location in Old Town.
KMUW General Manager Debra Fraser stands in front of KMUW's new location in Old Town.

For KMUW 89.1, it was a good news/bad news scenario.

The good news came in March when the public radio station owned by Wichita State University learned it would be moving to Wichita’s hip Old Town district. After 35 years of broadcasting in a former clothing store retrofitted with studios and sound booths, moving to a loft space with twice the square footage was an exciting development.

The bad news — or at least daunting news — was learning about the price-tag attached to the move. Although Wichita State will remodel and update the Old Town office, KMUW must raise about $100,000 to buy equipment essential to its operations in the new station.

“We’ll have nine studios where we’re going, compared to just six here,” says KMUW General Manager Debra Fraser, casting her eyes around the somewhat dilapidated station at 17th and Holyoke streets. “Some of them have been built into old closets. None of them is sound-proofed.”

The goal is to equip all of the new studios in the Old Town offices with acoustically sound, professional equipment, Fraser says. That will result in higher-quality broadcasts both locally and in the original programming that KMUW provides to other public radio stations around the country and world.

“Global Village is a great example of a locally produced program that is played all over the world,” Fraser says. “Every time that program is played somewhere, listeners also hear ‘KMUW, Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas.’ So anything we can do to make it sound better will make all of us more proud.”

KMUW last month kicked off a campaign to try to raise the $100,000, hopefully by the time the station moves to its new home in late September. A six-member committee of volunteers will help Fraser and Jessica Treadwell, WSU Foundation director of development, solicit donations through direct mail, visits to prospective donors and other outreach efforts.

“We’re hopeful that KMUW’s loyal and generous base of supporters will see the worthiness of this project and want to help,” Treadwell says. “Moving KMUW to its new location and upgrading equipment that either doesn’t now exist or is seriously outdated are steps that will make an already treasured resource even greater for this community.”

The equipment campaign won’t include on-air programming similar to the pledge drives the station conducts every spring and fall to raise operating funds, Fraser says. Those pledge drives raise about $600,000 a year to help pay for NPR programming, the salaries of 28 employees and basic expenses such as utilities, supplies and travel. KMUW’s annual budget is about $2.1 million.

“We don’t add a layer of cushion into our pledge drives to cover unexpected costs,” Fraser says. “Everything we raise keeps the station operating day in and day out.”

 

circle arrow If you'd like to help KMUW purchase the equipment it needs, please contact Jessica Treadwell, WSU Foundation director of development, at 319-978-6842 or jessica.treadwell@wichita.edu. You may also visit www.kmuw.org to make a donation online and learn more about the project.