With WNKU-FM soon to be sold and silenced, Cincinnati Public Radio will add a national adult album alternative (Triple-A) format broadcast on 91.7 WVXU-HD2 and streamed on wvxu.org starting 10 a.m. Friday.
"WNKU has provided an invaluable service to its listeners and to the local music community it serves and it will be missed," said Richard Eiswerth, Cincinnati Public Radio general manager and CEO.
"With the loss of the Triple-A format at WNKU-FM, we see that as a vacuum that – in order to fulfill our mission —we should step in and do our best to serve."
On Friday, WVXU-HD2 will replace PRX Remix programming (public radio news, features and arts segments) with XPoNential Radio, an alternative music service from Philadelphia public radio station WXPN-FM.
Listeners will need an HD radio in their car or home to receive XPoNential Radio over the air. HD radio "has been growing rather dramatically in recent years," particularly as an option in new cars, Eiswerth said. Or they can listen online.
On Tuesday, the Northern Kentucky University Board of Regents voted to sell WNKU-FM, which has broadcast a Triple-A format for 32 years, to the Bible Broadcasting Corp. When the Federal Communications Commission approves the deal, "WNKU will cease to broadcast," said NKU President Geoffrey S. Mearns.
Cincinnati Public Radio – which operates WVXU-FM, classical WGUC-FM and Oxford's WMUB-FM – also is exploring a way to broadcast some of the local music heard on WNKU-FM, after that station goes dark.
"We are hoping that in the very near future we might be able to find the funding, and find the opportunities, to be able to present a venue on broadcast (radio) for local bands again, once WNKU as we know it disappears from the airwaves," Eiswerth said.
Eiswerth stressed that the HD2 programming change was prompted by NKU's decision to pull the plug on WNKU-FM. (Full disclosure: When NKU first indicated it was considering options for WNKU-FM, Cincinnati Public Radio contacted the administration to say it was willing to discuss the possibility of entering into a Local Management Agreement to operate the station, such as CPR has with Miami University for WMUB-FM.)
"It's not our intention to compete with WNKU. We certainly wouldn't have gone this route if NKU had managed to maintain the station," Eiswerth said.
"But we wanted to get this service up and running… and work out all the kinks, and make sure it's viable and hope that it serves as a reasonable transition once (WNKU) makes its change."
In a statement released today, Eiswerth also wished "each employee at WNKU the very best as they navigate the upcoming transition, and we thank them for all the years of great music."