About Us

Our Vision: “To inspire and empower a diverse audience by being a trusted and essential resource for information, culture, community, and regional growth as a critical part of the educational mission of Murray State University.”

Our Mission:

The mission of WKMS is to be an essential provider of trusted news, eclectic music, and civil discourse to an audience in the Four Rivers Region of Western Kentucky, Northwest Tennessee and Southern Illinois with a global digital audience. 

WKMS serves the public: a diverse audience of inquisitive listeners including people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, generations, political persuasions, geographic locations, interests and tastes.

WKMS is committed to reasonably grow and steward revenue from listeners, businesses, grants and Murray State University. A focus on diversifying revenue sources ensures the stability of this essential resource.

WKMS maintains ethical standards concurrent with the public media code of integrity.

WKMS content thrives to meet and exceed public media industry standards related to production quality and style.

WKMS is community centered and committed to being a noncommercial service in an environment of commercial interests.

WKMS strives to be viewed as an information source that listens and reports on social, environmental, economic and cultural, concerns.

WKMS will use new technologies when the costs and benefits align to improve services for our current and potential listeners.  

WKMS understands recruiting, developing, motivating and fairly compensating personnel is key to the success of its mission. Additionally WKMS staff must possess exceptional ability, character, and dedication. WKMS provides good working conditions, superior leadership, fair compensation, a sense of shared ownership and decision-making.

History:

WKMS signed on May 11, 1970 as a non-commercial, educational FM station licensed to Murray State University.

The station now broadcasts in analog FM stereo and HD Digital on 91.3 MHz, with 100,000 watts analog and 1,000 watts digital, from antennas nearly 600 feet above average terrain, and streams these signals at www.wkms.org. The station also operates translators 92.5 FM Paducah, 105.1 FM Madisonville, KY and 88.9 FM Murray, KY. In 2010 WKMS installed repeater services 90.9 FM WKMD and WKMD HD1-and HD2,  Madisonville, KY, as well as 89.5 FM WKMT for Fulton, KY, Martin and Union City, TN. 

The station offers 2 independent channels of programming on its digital signal: HD-1 simulcasts programming on analog 91.3 FM while HD-2 offers classical music programming 24 hours a day.   WKMS has put its HD-2 signal on translators 92.5 FM, 105.1 FM and 88.9 FM.  WKMS has emergency auxiliary transmitters at its tower on the site of the former Mont, Kentucky in Land Between the Lakes, and at its studios on the 8th floor of Price Doyle Fine Arts Center, Murray State University.

WKMS is authorized to receive annual Community Service Grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). The station demonstrates through annual audits that it has significant funding from its listening communities to qualify for these grants. This funding from listening communities includes: appropriations from Murray State University, contributions from listeners, and investments from individual, business and organizational underwriters.

WKMS conducts fundraisers annually to encourage continuing and new contributions from listeners. These fundraisers include direct mailings, contacting known "member contributors" by phone for convenient renewals, providing a secure online giving page at wkms.org, and on-air campaigns. For the past decade nearly 2,000 listeners contribute annually.  The station continues to work to grow this number of listeners with programming updates and reviews.

Through Murray State University, WKMS employs  8-9 full time professional staff members including a full-time underwriting representative who actively recruits new and renews continuing individual, business and organizational underwriters throughout our listening area. WKMS belongs to the Great Public, a national public radio fundraising advisory organization and the University Station Alliance group. WKMS employs one part-time underwriting representative assigned specifically to Paducah and Madisonville, KY. WKMS belongs to many of the Chambers of Commerce in its region and welcomes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships with its educational, arts and entertainment institutions and organizations.

WKMS broadcasts programming from National Public Radio, American Public Media, Public Radio International, the BBC, the Associated Press, independent producers from around the nation and from producers who are either on staff or volunteers. WKMS News is a contributing correspondent with the Kentucky Public Radio News Exchange and a partner in funding the Kentucky Capitol Bureau.

As shown on the WKMS coverage map available at this website, our terrestrial listening communities are throughout southernmost Illinois, far western Kentucky, and northwest Tennessee. We also have listeners throughout the world who seek www.wkms.org for "home-away-from-home" listening experiences.

 

Grant Funding for WKMS Activities Over the Years

 

Currently, WKMS is in year one of a two year reporting project called "The Ohio Valley ReSource." This reporting partnership is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and seven public media organizations including WKMS. This project is covering the economic transition of the broadly defined Ohio Valley, including Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.

WKMS and the Kentucky Public Radio Network (AKPRS) are in the second round of a collaborative services grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This project has expanded on an already strong partnership that funds a reporter to cover the Kentucky's state capitol in Frankfort. to statewide mid-day newscasts, an digital network interconnect a statewide underwriting sales person and a membership program project. 

In 2008 Murray State University made a $116,000 commitment to provide local matching funds for a construction funding assistance proposal to the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program which was granted.  This over $330,000 grant built the repeater stations for Madisonville and Fulton.

Previous Grant Projects:

After upgrading to 100,000 watts with a $150,000 grant from the Health Education and Welfare Department of the United States, WKMS has participated in several subsequent national grant activities. Both the Paducah and Paris translators were installed with matching grants from the Public Telecommunications Facilities Funding Program of the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 1981 the Kentucky Humanities Council provided funding for the station to produce an hour long drama, "The Land Between." Producer Sheila Rue received a $17,000 grant from the Kentucky Humanities Council in 1982 for her series "Crossroads."

Former Station Manager Kate Lochte was included in the two year CPB "Next Generation Project," training managers in business leadership practices. Producer Margaret Hunt received a CPB production grant for her series "Classical Classroom." In 1996 News Director Vince Medlock produced a series called "Straight Dope," about teen substance abuse with funding from the Benton Foundation of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The same funding sources supported independent producer Constance Alexander's year-long exploration of end of life issues in a series of reports called "Promises to Keep" in 1998, a project which included myriad activities with the Department of Nursing at Murray State University.

Alexander had earlier produced a series for WKMS titled "Connecting People and Place" with extensive oral history interviews with former residents of Land Between the Rivers. Lochte and Program Director Mark Welch participated in a three year long CPB project researching public service for rural audiences in conjunction with the National Federation of Community Broadcasters which began in 2001. In 2003 WKMS earned a CPB Rural Service Initiative Grant to upgrade its membership database systems. In 2004 WKMS Chief Engineer Allen Fowler's preparation of an application for an $85,000 matching grant from CPB for a new digital transmission system was funded the station leveraged listener dollars to complete the work in 2005.

 

 

WKMS Facilities

The WKMS tower is near the site of the former community of Mont, Kentucky between the Golden Pond Visitor's Center in Land Between the Lakes and Grand Rivers, Kentucky. At the top of the 500' tower there's a 14 bay FM antenna manufactured by ERI in Evansville, IN. Mounted just above them is a device called a Staticat which works to deflect lightning strikes. Down the center of the tower is a sealed copper tube called the transmission line. This line connects the antenna to two Harris 20K transmitters, primary and auxiliary, inside a concrete block building secured within a locked security enclosure.

Midway down the tower is the WKMS auxiliary antenna connected by a flexible transmission cable to the transmitters. The two separate antennas and two transmitters provide redundancy in emergencies. Also there's a "dummy load" power receptacle inside the transmitter building, which allows testing of the transmitters when there are line and antenna problems. This allows maximum efficiency in recovering from interruptions to the system such as power surges, lightning strikes, etc.

Further down the tower is the microwave receive antenna, which is calibrated to capture the studio transmitter link signal from the microwave send antenna atop Price Doyle Fine Arts tower at 15th and Olive Streets in Murray. The signal from the main studio travels from the microwave receive antenna down into the transmitter, then travels up the tower via the transmission line to the FM antenna for broadcast at 91.3 FM with 100,000 watts of power.

In addition to WKMS equipment, the tower hosts broadcast equipment belonging to Kentucky Early Warning System (KEWS) Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, Kentucky State Police, the U.S. Forestry Service and Satellink Paging.

Murray State University has a working agreement with KEWS whereby KEWS provides WKMS a transmission signal to the Murray Studios for phone telemetry, including all of the remote monitoring required to keep the system within parameters set for each broadcast station by the Federal Communications Commission, and KEWS has space for its equipment in an area of the 8th Floor of the Price Doyle Tower as well as in the transmitter hut at LBL. KEWS also shares the cost of HVAC repairs and tower painting at the LBL site. The U.S. Forestry service provides landscape clearance to maintain the WKMS tower guy wire paths and anchors without threat of invasive damage from vegetation. The U.S. Forestry service also assists in maintaining the gravel road access and occasional security matters.

Pennyrile Electric of Trigg County provides the lines to the WKMS tower site and responds to emergencies there. Frequently the source of power interruption is an event of some sort at the TVA Lyon County substation, during which Pennyrile summons TVA crews and follows up after their repair to assure WKMS restored service at its remote location.

The ultimate redundancy for the WKMS system would involve the installation of a power generator backup. Due to the cost on the equipment and its monthly monitoring needs, and the infrequency of power interruptions, the station has no current plans to acquire a generator.

WKMS rents space from Kentucky Educational Television for its translator that improves reception for parts of Paducah. The tower is within the Department of Emergency Services compound on Coleman Road.  WKMS built a tower and owns it on land granted by easement from the Kentucky Community and Technical College system on campus at Madisonville Community College.  Public safety equipment for city of Madisonville and Hopkins county law enforcement agencies are on this tower as well as transmission equipment for 90.9 FM.

 

WKMS Physical Plant - Murray State Campus

Wrapped around the south end of the 8th Floor of Price Doyle Tower on campus at Murray State, WKMS includes offices for producers, administration, development and membership. There are three studios; a large multi-purpose room for the music library and news production; an office for the web and operations director including operations computer terminals, and equipment racks, and the studio auxiliary transmitter; and a workshop shared by engineering staff for WKMS and MSU TV 11.

 

 

Without the generous support of listeners, we can't do any of this. Thanks!