KUAR an asset to community
Photo courtesy of www.kuar.org
In an office suite in University Plaza, a group is doing what it can to enhance life in central Arkansas.
The mission of UALR sponsored radio station KUAR is “to deepen insight into the human experience, empower decision-making and enrich the lives of those we serve through quality news and cultural programs.”
General Director Ben Fry said they do this through their programming. “When you put all that KUAR … offer[s] together, it makes our community a better place to live.”
KUAR started out as KLRE in 1973, as a way to train high school students for broadcasting. Slowly increasing in power and on-air time over the years, KLRE received a Corporation for Public Broadcasting federal grant in 1983, and became a member of National Public Radio (NPR) in 1984. This enabled the station to broadcast national programs such as All Things Considered and A Prairie Home Companion.
In 1986, a partnership between UALR and the Little Rock School District brought about KUAR, as a sister station to KLRE. Eventually KUAR took over news and other programming, making KLRE an all-classical station.
Over the past two decades, KUAR has increased programming and funding, as well as expanding its listening area to include much of the state of Arkansas.
In 2005, KUAR moved from UALR’s Stabler Hall to its current location and will soon have space for a new transmitter on television station KATV’s tower.
The move will improve the station’s signal, and Fry said that should decrease interference in some areas.
“It will also make our broadcast operation more efficient,” he said, “which should also save us some money in the long run.”
Money is big factor in KUAR’s agenda. They do bi-annual on-air fundraising drives, but Fry said only about 4,000 out of approximately 70,000 listeners donate. Still, listener contributions make up about 40 percent of KUAR’s annual budget. Another 20 percent comes from business and corporate underwriting, 25 percent from UALR, 10 percent from federal grants and five percent comes from other sources.
Fry said the station is looking at what they can do in the event that the national government decides to cut funding to public radio, but he said they are also working to ensure that doesn’t happen.
“It’s a pretty important component in the mixture of how we fund the station,” he said.
Central Arkansas has shown support for public radio, electing KUAR the best radio station in the 2002 Arkansas Times reader’s poll. The station has also won multiple awards in the past decade, including a few Arkansas AP Broadcasters Association Sweepstakes awards.
“That’s the award for winning the most awards,” said Fry.
KUAR has also jumped onto the social media bandwagon in recent years, using Facebook and Twitter as a means to reach listeners. Its blog, ARK things considered, was created last year.
“We’re having a lot of fun doing it,” said Fry. “I think it’s something that will grow.”
Fry said they are making the website more informative and interactive, as well as working on increasing coverage of local news and important issues.
“If you’re going to a productive member of society, you need to know about the important issues our world faces from a variety of perspectives,” he said. “I think you find that on KUAR.”
KUAR broadcasts on FM 89.1. For more information about the station, including a list of programming and to donate, visit www.kuar.org.