Middletown’s own WPFB radio station, which has been broadcasting upwards of 64 years, has been bought out by Northern Kentucky University’s WNKU-FM. This buy out also includes the purchase of Portsmouth’s WPAY-FM, in an effort to expand WNKU’s broadcasting region to Dayton and Huntington W. Virginia, which triples the station’s current broadcasting area.
What does this mean for the citizens of Middletown? The most immediately apparent change will no doubt be the ceasing of local sports broadcasting, which means the citizens of Middletown will no longer be able to tune into Middies games. Another consequent is the loss of WPFB’s own program called The Rebel, which broadcasts music predominantly of the country genre. These losses no doubt come as a disappointment to Middletown citizens.
Are there any positives to this buy-out? Well that depends on who you ask. For Chuck Miller, WNKU’s general manager, and others that fall within the purview of WNKU’s concerns (including Northern Kentucky University itself), there are no doubt some benefits. For example, by purchasing Middletown’s WPFB and Portsmouth’s WPAY, WNKU-FM will triple its current broadcasting area, extending it as far as Dayton and Huntington West Virginia. It is also clear that the station wants to wean itself from its current dependence on NKU, from which it receives an annual $300,000 subsidy; and Miller believes that the station can become self-sufficient in four years.
Whether or not WNKU’s goals of self-sufficiency will be achieved through this buy-out, it frankly holds no consequence ( at least positive ones) for the citizens of Middletown, or Portsmouth for that matter; if anything, it is seen as a loss without return, since programming that is fashioned to be concerned about local specifics will most likely vanish. Despite Miller’s comments about WNKU’s belief in ‘local news’, and that its content ‘will not be syndicated’, there seems to be little reason to not regard such comments as dubious. After all, how could programming content for a broadcast area so vast not be syndicated and generic?
Nevertheless, local sports broadcasting will end after Jan. 31, and the purchase is expected to be in full effect by April or May. By which time Middletown’s citizens will be ‘treated’ to WNKU’s programming, which consists of a musical blend of alternative, folk-rock, classic rock and bluegrass; and they will be forced to get their local sports news elsewhere.
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