KERA wants to take over Dallas classical music station and Texas’ first WRR radio station

Two of Dallas’ largest and most educational radio stations want to join forces, but the decision is up to the city.

KERA 90.1 FM on Friday announced plans to take over WRR Classical 101.1 FM, operated by the city of Dallas and Texas’ oldest radio station, according to a Friday statement from KERA.

“We are a public broadcaster,” says Nico Leone, CEO of KERA. “We’ve been one for over 60 years. We run an NPR station, a PBS station, a triple-A music station, and the one format that we don’t have in our family that really thrives in public broadcasting is the classical. music.”

The city’s Office of Arts and Culture served as WRR’s main operator, making it a city radio station under its current management, according to the city’s request for proposals (RFP) seeking a non-profit organization to operate the station.

According to a city statement, WRR has been in the red for eight years, “with a declining fund balance in operating reserves of $5.1 million since 2012.”

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“As a responsible steward, the City of Dallas is exploring a new direction for WRR 101.1 FM to ensure it remains a city-owned classical music format radio station,” the statement read. “All bidders must operate as a non-profit organization. If the station’s operating and capital reserves were depleted, the city could not require it to remain a conventional station. “

The city has begun accepting bidders to take over its RFP agreement for management to present its proposal to Dallas City Council on Monday with a full vote of attorneys scheduled for June.

“If the station’s operating and capital reserves were exhausted, the city could not insist that it remain a conventional station.” – Statement from the City of Dallas

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Leone says KERA will not change the station’s format if the city reaches an agreement with KERA, and the station will not be moved from its home in Fair Park.

“Our explicit intention and the requirements of the RFP are that WRR will remain a classic station,” he says.

He also says the station plans to schedule concerts and form partnerships with bands like the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Fort Worth Symphony to stage live productions and continue WRR’s efforts to make classical music as accessible. than any other format on the air.

“I think this is one of the really exciting opportunities for us, and KERA has such a long history of working in the arts, bringing artistic content to the public,” Leone said. “We think it’s just another way to do this and a way for us to expand our work in this area and in the community.”

WRR began in 1921 as a public frequency for Dallas firefighters to report and coordinate firefighters. Between calls, the firefighters would play music or crack jokes live. The fire department also used the station to help solicit donations for new equipment as Dallas began to grow. The station became popular as residents tuned in to listen to the latest fire updates or simply enjoy the sounds of bored firefighters trying to entertain themselves between fires, according to WRR.

The station moved to the Adolphus Hotel in 1926, then to the Jefferson and Hilton Hotels, before settling in its present home in the late 1930s. The station’s format changed to all classical music in 1964, making it the oldest and only classic-format station in Texas. It was also the first to broadcast in an all-digital format in 2006.

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