KCPT is set to join the radio world

Kansas City’s public television station soon will be in the radio business.

Pending approval by the Federal Communications Commission, the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg will transfer ownership of its public radio station, KTBG (90.9 FM), to KCPT (Channel 19), Kansas City’s member television station in the Public Broadcasting System.

The university’s board of governors on Thursday signed the letter of intent to transfer station ownership to KCPT. The transfer is not likely to become official before September, KCPT President Kliff Kuehl said.

The total purchase price was $1.7 million, Kuehl said. That includes the $1.1 million transfer acquisition and $600,000 for improvements and equipment. It was financed by a loan, donations and gifts, and unrestricted reserve funds, he said.

KCPT plans to renovate and upgrade existing radio studios in its building at 125 E. 31st St., move the station’s radio tower closer to Kansas City and increase its signal strength so it reaches the entire Kansas City metropolitan area.

“It won’t reach Lawrence but it’s going to reach far across the metro area,” Kuehl said.

The station’s talk and news programming will be discontinued, as will its coverage of university sports. Its Triple A music format, which stands for “adult album alternative,” will stay the same.

KTBG, known as “the Bridge,” has had that format for years under program director Jon Hart. Recent playlists have included Alt-J, Dawes, the Black Keys, Phoenix, Feist, John Prine, Josh Ritter, Frank Turner, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Ryan Adams and Eels. Its programming regularly includes local bands. None of that will change, Kuehl said.

“We are going to clean up its format … focusing on music primarily,” he said. “Our goal is to get a good percentage of local music on the air along with the national touring bands.”

Hart was not available for comment, but Kuehl said, “We’re just going to let Jon do what he does: Run a great, triple-A radio station.”

Amid the music, the station will promote other cultural areas, Kuehl said

“The TV station does a lot of community engagement,” he said. “We’ll do that with the radio station, too. We’ll make it about music with some coverage of arts and culture and nonprofits. It’s another way for us to tell more local stories and engage a younger audience and try to get them out to more arts and cultural events, maybe volunteer for nonprofits. So it’s about music and local music first, but information on other cultural events as well.”

In a statement Friday, Charles Ambrose, the university’s president, said, “The university is very pleased with the overall agreement with Kansas City Public Television. In conjunction with transferring ownership of KTBG, we are also establishing an exciting, multidimensional relationship with KCPT and the Kansas City community, which will greatly benefit both parties.”