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UM moves to purchase radio station amid tax debate


COLUMBIA, Mo. — The University of Missouri is one step closer to finalizing a $100K deal that would bring another radio station under the umbrella of their growing media empire.

UM filed today with the FCC to formally complete the purchase of 90.5 FM (KWWC-FM) from Stephens College in Columbia. The school is paying — with what an official called “private funds” — $50K for the station and providing another $50K in free public service announcements for Stephens.

The University currently owns 91.3 KBIA, the NPR affiliate in the area, which has roughly 40,000 listeners. With the purchase of 90.5 FM, KBIA will now be dedicated solely to news broadcasts while 90.5 FM will air classical music. A university spokesperson said that the move will give radio students a more “real-world” experience of working in a radio news station. Currently, students rarely broadcast news between 9am and 3pm on KBIA.

The university also owns KCOU, a student-run radio station on campus that is not the formal teaching outlet for radio students, similar to the university student-run newspaper, The Maneater.

The purchase comes as the university works with some Democratic lawmakers to back a plan to increase Missouri’s cigarette tax to provide tuition-free college to qualified Missouri students. Some Republican lawmakers have already come out against the plan, citing their opposition to higher taxes and “free money” to universities.

Earlier this summer, the University of Missouri-St. Louis used private funds to purchase a golf course for more than $1 million, earning the ire of some of the same lawmakers opposing the cigarette tax.