Poplar Bluff Is About To Get Its Own Public Radio Station

Oct 19, 2014

Poplar Bluff – Poplar Bluff is about to get its own public radio station, said Robert Smith, one of the founders of Poplar Bluff’s new “Black River Public Radio.”

The radio station is taking its initial steps Saturday, Nov. 8 with a fundraiser to be held in the upstairs ballroom of Cape Arrowhead, 502 Vine Street.

Smith explained about $10,000 worth of equipment needs to be purchased to get Black River Radio on the air. Tickets for the Nov. 8 event will be $20 each and will include hors d’oeuvres, wine and entertainment provided by “The Millstones,” a band made up of local musicians: Wally Duncan, Elizabeth Engram, John Engram, Blake Wade, and Dan Jackson. The group plays music from the 60’s, 70’s, to modern pop music. They’ve played at local venues such as The Rodgers Theatre, The Wine Rack, Ray’s at Kelso and Eagle Pass Winery. A cash bar will also be available at the event.

“We’ve obtained our 501C3 status to be approved for tax-free status,” explained Smith. “And basically we’ve got 18 months to get this started, or we’ll have to ask for an extension with the FCC.”

Smith is hopeful they can be up and running within about a year.

“We can’t really start out as an NPR (National Public Radio), because their program is very expensive. But we can start out with local programming as our emphasis. Over time, we hope to build up to include NPR programming,” said Smith.

Because community service and education is going to be a cornerstone of Black River Radio, Smith said the group is currently talking with officials from Poplar Bluff Public Schools about incorporating students who have an interest in communications into the radio station. As a matter of fact, Smith said the group would be very pleased to have the station set up on the PBHS campus.

Tim Krakowiak, Communications and Marketing Director for Poplar Bluff Public Schools, is equally excited about the idea.

“When I started my job with the school system a couple of years ago, I was asked to serve as a member of the Black River Radio Board,” recalled Krakowiak. “We thought Poplar Bluff Schools was a natural fit for a public radio station.”

Krakowiak said one of the things the group has done is to look at existing communication systems that have a school component, such as the Current River Career Center in Doniphan.

“We looked at how the digital media, radio, and TV broadcasting programs were being coordinated, and we liked what we were seeing there. That gives us some terrific ideas to start with here,” explained Krakowiak.

Both Smith and Krakowiak noted that the basis of this station will be public service.

“We really want to promote community and culture in a non-commercial way,” said Krakowiak.

Smith agreed the station will provide fantastic opportunities for local groups and organizations who serve the community to get their message out to the public.

Smith said Black River Public Radio is also looking for ways to involve Three Rivers College.

“There are just so many possibilities to involve education,” said Smith. “This would be an excellent opportunity for area students who are interested in Communications.”

Though it may be take some time before NPR programming could be implemented, that is a worthy goal.

NPR is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States. It produces and distributes news and cultural programming. Though individual public radio stations are not required to broadcast all NPR programs, most public radio stations aspire to provide some NPR programming, such as the group’s popular “Morning Edition” and ‘All Things Considered,” two of the most popular radio programs in the country.

Member stations are required to be non-commercial or non-commercial educational radio stations. They must have at least five full-time professional employees, operate for at least 18 hours a day. Each station receives one vote at the annual NPR board meetings.