KERA set to take over city-owned WRR

Next month’s direction may change for WRR, the city-owned classical music station, but the station will retain its locally scheduled classical format.

KERA and the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture are in the process of reaching a management agreement for the station, which is the first licensed broadcast station in Texas and, at 101 years old, one of the oldest. active radio stations in the country.

Until now, the station had to be autonomous, explained the Friends of the WRR on its website.

“WRR does not operate at the expense of taxpayers but as a ‘business’ of the City of Dallas, a self-governing government fund that sells advertising and sponsorships to generate revenue to cover its expenses,” the organization said. non-profit. “This model allowed the station to successfully broadcast classical music to anyone in Dallas who could receive the signal. Revenues exceeding expenses have always been invested in the station’s capital needs, and a small portion has been transferred over the years to the Arts and Culture Bureau’s Arts Endowment Fund to support small and medium-sized businesses. arts organizations.

Last year, Dallas officials decided to withdraw from radio station management and issued a request for proposals. KERA was ultimately selected as the preferred bidder, and the proposed contract will be submitted to city council next month for approval, the station said in a press release Friday.

The station will retain its current format (one of the conditions of the tender) and will be operated by KERA and owned by the city. It will also continue to operate from its Fair Park studios for the next seven years.

“KERA is honored to be considered to manage WRR and further its commitment to classical music,” said Nico Leone, President and CEO of KERA. “Together, we can help WRR grow and serve diverse audiences in Dallas and North Texas, ensuring WRR will continue for generations to come. And given our own commitment to arts and culture and our strong partnerships both locally and nationally, KERA is well positioned to build on the success WRR has achieved over its incredible 101-year history.

The public radio station says it is best suited to run the historic station because of its deep arts coverage and commitment to North Texas.

“We are a public broadcasting organization,” Leon said in KERA’s story about the contract. “We have been one for over 60 years. We operate an NPR station, a PBS station, a triple-A music station,” Leone said. “And the one format that we don’t have in our family that really thrives in public broadcasting is classical music.”

This is not the first time in 101 years that WRR has been faced with the fact that the city no longer wants to operate it.

The station, according to Friends of the WRR, got its start when Henry “Dad” Garrett installed a 50-watt radio transmitter at the Central Fire Station in 1920. Between transmitting fire and police reports, Garrett has played his collection of classic recordings on a phonograph which he hooked up to the transmitter. By 1921, the station was broadcasting police reports, baseball scores, weather forecasts, and classical music.

In 1925, the station’s operating expenses worried city officials, so they let the station’s license expire. Several city leaders raised funds to bring the station back, and within three months the station was back.

WRR moved from the fire station to the Adolphus Hotel, then to the Jefferson, then to the Hilton before settling permanently at the fairgrounds in the late 1930s. WRR added an FM station in 1948 and broadcast to both on AM and FM until the sale of its AM station in 1978.

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Bethany Erickson

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Bethany Erickson is the Senior Digital Editor of Magazine D. She has written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.

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