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MSPR undergoes upgrades, lends support to area businesses during pandemic

Morehead State Public Radio (MSPR), 90.3 FM, WMKY, is currently undergoing upgrades to replace outdated equipment that will allow it to continue preparing students for broadcasting careers.   

The station, located in Breckinridge Hall on the MSU campus, is replacing two audio boards in its master control and production studios. The units are nearly twenty years old, about five years passed due to be replaced, according to MSPR General Manager Paul Hitchcock. The current units are missing parts and not all the buttons are operational. The main components to be purchased are Wheatstone Audio consoles and associated hardware and software. The total cost to replace the audio boards is just under $90,000. Hitchcock said the upgrades give students practical experience with the latest in broadcast technology.  

"Currently, more than 15 students are directly involved at MSPR. Students operate equipment as announcers, producers, engineers and editors. They serve on-air as local hosts for NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, PRI's The World and more. The equipment to be purchased will be the latest and most advanced available for our needs at this time," Hitchcock said.   

The upgrades will take place over the next six months, and Hitchcock said there are no expected broadcast interruptions. He added listeners will benefit from the upgrade through improved sound quality.   

"The equipment and associated hardware/software are specified to work together for seamless transitions, improved amplification, sound and broadcast," Hitchcock said.   

The equipment was paid for through listener contributions during the Spring 2020 Fundraiser and Membership Drive. Additional funds came from American Rescue Plan Stabilization (ARPS) Grant monies the station received through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).  

The upgrade was supposed to be completed last year but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

While the pandemic may have delayed MSPR's equipment upgrades, it did not stop the station from serving the community. MSPR offered a unique resource to local businesses during the pandemic's peak, providing free gift-in-kind advertising, called underwriting, to area businesses. The station received a $112,136.00 grant from the CPB through the 2020 Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and $197,602.00 from the CPB through the American Rescue Plan Stabilization (ARPS) Grant.  MSPR also received a Community Service Grant (CSG) from the CPB in October 2020.  

"The decision was made not to actively fundraise in the fall of 2020. Seeking underwriting sponsorships was also postponed due to the pandemic and economy. So, WMKY had already received funding through the three grants (CSG, CARES, ARPS) and decided to ‘pay it forward’ by offering locally-owned businesses free underwriting sponsorships," Hitchcock said, adding the program aired over 5,000 messages worth more than $40,000 to help more than 30 businesses in the community.  

"As a public radio media, we have the responsibility of serving the communities in our broadcast region. That service is provided in many forms, such as local news and locally-hosted music programs, severe weather information and community announcements. The ‘pay it forward’ program was just another tool for MSPR to serve the community, its listeners and the businesses who rely on those listeners to patronize and support their business."  

MSPR's mission is to provide regional programming that is educational, informative and entertaining. MSPR offers regional news, public affairs and documentary programming, with various music programs consisting of classical, jazz, bluegrass and Americana.   

To learn more about MSPR, visit www.wmky.org, email Hitchcock at p.hitchc@moreheadstate.edu or call 606-783-2001.