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WNKU Ends Broadcast on 89.7, Will Continue on 105.9 for Now

The end is closer for WNKU, the adult album alternative station based at Northern Kentucky University.

Since its start more than 30 years ago, the station broadcast on the 89.7 FM frequency, but that ended Friday at 9 a.m. as the station played Over the Rhine's "Goodbye (This is Not Goodbye)".

WNKU will continue to broadcast on 105.9 FM until October when Grant County Broadcasters takes over that frequency.

In February, Northern Kentucky University sold WNKU's frequencies with 89.7 and 104.1 going to religious broadcasters. Later in the summer, 105.9 was purchased by Grant County Broadcasters, which operates 106.7 WNKR, a classic country format in Dry Ridge.

“We hope listeners understand that the decisions concerning WNKU have not been made lightly. The station has been part of our university for more than three decades. But in these challenging economic times for public education, we have the responsibility to ensure that our core mission of putting our students and their education comes first," NKU said in a statement.

"This critical mission has been met with steep financial challenges for many years. In fact, each year since 2008, due to exorbitant increases in pension costs and—until this year—continued reductions in state support, the university has been forced to reduce or freeze our investment in academic programs, student support services and salaries and benefits for faculty and staff. At the same time, WNKU has required a substantial and growing subsidy to cover its operations. 

"In 2011, when the university acquired WPFB and WPAY, the intent was to attract enough new listeners and sustaining members to reach financial sustainability. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Over the past six years, WNKU required $4.4 million from the university, and it was projected to have an operating deficit again for fiscal year 2017. The sale of WNKU and its related properties will allow the university to pay off the debt it is carrying, and eliminate the annual subsidy that can be reinvested in our core mission of our students and their education.

"We thank all of our WNKU listeners over the years, and we join them in celebrating the station’s outstanding legacy.”

In February 2017, NKU accepted Bible Broadcasting Corporation’s $1.9 million offer to buy 89.7-FM. The university also entered into a purchase agreement with Educational Media Foundation for WNKE-Portsmouth in February. The sales of 89.7-FM and WNKE-FM are now complete. The university accepted Grant County Broadcasters’ bid to purchase WNKN-Middletown in July. for $4 million in cash and more than $1 million in advertising.

-Staff report