Ideastream Public Media & WKSU: Together for Northeast Ohio
Effective October 1, 2021 Ideastream Public Media and WKSU public radio plan to enter into a public service operating agreement to create one of Northeast Ohio’s largest news organizations, building on decades of award-winning journalism from two of the region’s leaders in news and information. On that date, Ideastream Public Media will begin operating WKSU. Kent State University will retain FCC licensing for WKSU and its repeater stations.
This exciting development will allow us to provide more programming, expand journalism for the entire region, and build on our established business models to become even more sustainable. Under the new operating agreement, the audience served by Ideastream Public Media’s news and information programming will increase from 2.4 million to 3.6 million and serve 22 counties throughout Northeast Ohio.
In 2022, WKSU will become the sole NPR news and information station in Northeast Ohio and Ideastream Public Media will commit its 104.9 FM signal (currently WCLV) as a repeater station that extends the WKSU coverage. As part of these plans, Ideastream Public Media’s classical service (WCLV) will move to 90.3 FM, making classical music available to a significantly larger listening area.
All members of WKSU’s staff are being offered positions with Ideastream Public Media’s expanded news and information operation. The combined organizations will employ approximately 150 employees, including more than 40 employees in the new unified newsroom.
Our decision to pursue this agreement was reinforced by an analysis the two organizations conducted earlier this year with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. That analysis found Ideastream Public Media and WKSU could realize a number of efficiencies by working together, resulting in strong public service reporting in Northeast Ohio and other benefits to listeners throughout the region.
Today is only the beginning of a long journey. Under the agreement, a phased approach to transition will occur. Both WKSU and WCPN will continue to operate as separate NPR news and information stations for the time being, while staffs come together to develop plans for combining newsroom resources and operations. We will also seek your input in the coming months to help us assess community needs.