30-year-old radio station goes silent forever

11:53 a.m. Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 Local News
WNKU has been sold and is phasing out its program. Image: WNKU/ Northern Kentucky University Facebook.

A radio station that has entertained listeners for 30 years has gone silent. 

Dayton and the rest of Southwest Ohio said goodbye to WNKU on Thursday, Sept. 28.  

The Northern Kentucky University radio station’s  broadcasts stretched to the Dayton and Middletown areas.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer: 

At 6 p.m. Thursday, general manager Aaron Sharpe played his favorite song, Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place." It was the final song to ever play on WNKU.

A dozen people crammed into the studio tucked away on the campus at Northern Kentucky University to witness the final hour. In the narrow spaces between computer monitors, the microphone, desk and recording equipment, they danced. They also wept. 

EARLIER REPORT (March  28, 2017): Radio station ending popular shows, slashing staff  to bare minimum 

The end is near for a radio station that has featured local music for 30 years.

WNKU, a Northern Kentucky University radio station whose broadcasts stretch to the Dayton and Middletown areas, aired final episodes of five of its long-standing  weekend shows last weekend: “You’re On the Air with Mr. Rhythm Man,” “Roadhouse Blues with Ken Hanes,” “The Front Porch with Pam Temple,”  “The Real Mary Peale Show” and “Music From the Hills of Home.” 

The remaining two  —“Funky Fridays with Freekbass” and “80’s Mixtape” —  will broadcast final episodes on Friday, March 31.   

WNKU host Aaron Sharpe said Friday will be the last day for 11 WNKU staff members due to a university decision to reduce staff as the station phases off the air.

As we reported in February, the University of Kentucky board of regents voted to sell the station to the Bible Broadcasting Company for for $1.9 million.

>> MORE: WNKU 105.9 sold to religious broadcasting company

Five remaining staffers will run the public radio station that specializes in local music from Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus and Northern Kentucky until it goes off the air. 

Sharpe said that is not expected to happen for several weeks. 

“We (are) going to do as much as we can with what we got to the very end,” he said.   

WNKU has been sold and is phasing out its program. Image: WNKU/ Northern Kentucky University Facebook.

Officials cited WNKU’s cumulative budget deficit of $2.6 million from 2011 to 2016 as the reason for the sale.

The station had received a total subsidy of $1.8 million during that period, according to  WCPO-Ch. 9 in Cincinnati.

The sale is pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

Sharpe said it is extremely unlikely that the sale will be stop during the approval process.  

“Not to say that it is impossible, but it is pretty improbable.” he said.

>> MORE: K99 wins Marconi award as a 2016 ‘Station of the Year’ 

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