April 04, 2013 12:00AM
KRPS, 89.9 FM, kicked off its spring membership campaign this week with a tribute to its past and a nod to the future.
The public radio station, located on the campus of Pittsburg State University, turns 25 this month and according to Missi Kelly, general manager, the membership campaign is a celebration of the hard work that founded the station and has sustained it since.
“There were a number of people who recognized a need for a different kind of radio station in the Four-State area and who worked diligently to make it happen,” Kelly said. “There were obstacles and setbacks, but they never gave up. Perhaps that is a lesson for us as we face some pretty big financial challenges today.”
KRPS began broadcasting at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 29, 1988. From the beginning, the station’s mix of NPR news, classical and jazz music, and other public radio programming filled a hole that had existed in the region.
The station’s powerful, 100,000-watt signal reaches out approximately 100 miles in every direction from its tower south of Pittsburg. Included in the coverage area are cities from Bartlesville, Okla., and Rogers, Ark., to Pleasanton, Kan., and Monett, Mo.
“One of the compelling arguments for the establishment of KRPS that still resonates today is the importance of providing this special type of programming for people who live not only in communities of some size, but also to people who live on farms and small towns throughout the region,” Kelly said. “It really is a quality-of-life issue.”
Grady Smoot, then PSU vice president for development and public relations, had that in mind on the day of the station’s first broadcast.
“The Four-State region will never be the same,” Smoot said as the first broadcast began.
Kelly said keeping the signal strong and paying for exceptional programming is an ongoing struggle for KRPS and other public stations in many areas of the country, especially as state and federal support have been cut in recent years.
“Membership dollars and underwriting are more important now than ever,” Kelly said. “Unlike commercial stations, public radio stations are not allowed to sell advertising, so when state and federal sources diminish, members and underwriters have to bridge the gap.”
The spring membership campaign is going on now, but Kelly said listeners can become members at any time of the year and may pledge online at the KRPS website, www.KRPS.org.