Chicago’s news/talk public radio station WBEZ FM 91.5 soon may be expanding its reach south to Kankakee and beyond.
Officials of Chicago Public Media confirmed Monday they’re looking into acquiring the license for WKCC FM 91.1, the Kankakee Community College public radio station that’s about to go off the air.
Citing budget constraints and other educational priorities, the college announced earlier this year it was shutting down WKCC effective December 18, leaving a wide swath of the far south suburbs without public radio service. The station’s Class A license was put up for sale.
“While we believe the station is a community asset, the college isn’t able to continue funding it,” John Avendano, president of Kankakee Community College, said in a statement last summer. “Recent enrollment declines, coupled with dwindling state support, make it essential for the college to direct its resources towards instructional and student needs.”
Tom Taylor Now, the authoritative radio industry newsletter, reported the price for the station might be in the range of $400,000.
It’s not known whether any other parties expressed interest in buying the station, but the parent company of WBEZ is in the due diligence phase, according to Goli Sheikholeslami, president and chief executive officer of Chicago Public Media.
“Chicago Public Media is indeed exploring the potential acquisition of the WKCC station license as an opportunity to expand our regional coverage and preserve 24-hour public radio in Kankakee and the surrounding areas,” Sheikholeslami wrote in an email Monday. “We have responded to an official request for proposals and are currently in the due diligence phase, which is anticipated to be completed by the end of the year.”
WKCC began as WTKC, the nation’s first tourism radio station in 1992, as a partnership with Olivet Nazarene University and the Kankakee County Convention and Visitors Bureau, according to the station’s website. Kankakee Community College assumed operation and maintenance of the frequency in 2005, and began broadcasting in 2007.