About Us

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.

WKMS Mission Statement:

The mission of WKMS is to inform, enrich, and engage our audience with long-form news and an eclectic mix of music on air and online.

Our goals are:
  • To provide ethical, thoughtful, and responsive news coverage, providing listeners with a reliable destination for information;
  • To provide eclectic local and national music programming that offers depth and perspective for our audience;
  • To develop partnerships with regional institutions that share the mission of WKMS;
  • To engage our communities in the content we offer;
  • And to pursue creative, critical, and independent thought, promoting civil discourse among our staff, our communities, and our licensee, Murray State University.

Grant Funding for WKMS Activities Over the Years

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."

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.

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.


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.


WKMS Long-Term and Short-Term Goals

The primary ongoing goal for WKMS is to increase public service for its broad, rural listening area. We believe that we can measure increases in public service by increases in listening to the station. And we believe that happens with extraordinary programming. 

Another ongoing short-term goal is to convert increases in public service to revenue realized through individual contributions and underwriting support. These two income sectors affect the annual calculation community service grants WKMS receives from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 2010-2011 station personnel participated in CPB’s Leadership for Philanthropy program to begin progress towards a major giving program.

Our longer term goals also include growth in staff, equipment and facilities. We continue to develop distinctive regional programming to tie our station more closely to our communities. We continue to “make do” with our 1970's era environment.

WKMS reviews programming annually, using national and regional research to refine our schedule. Our goals are to:

  • Increase regional news coverage.
  • Improve quality and increase hours of regionally produced programming.
  • Increase partnerships with area educational and fine arts institutions.
  • Increase services available on the WKMS website.


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