Friday, April 19, 2019

Peoria Radio: Bradley U Ends Daily Operations Of WCBU

Bradley University is ending its daily operation of WCBU 89.9 FM. WGLT, the public radio station operated by Illinois State University in Normal, will manage Peoria Public Radio's operations. 

Bradley University and Illinois State University announced the five-year management and programming agreement Thursday, April 18.  

The plan ends months of speculation regarding WCBU's future. 

Bradley University announced its intent to forge a partnership between WCBU and another broadcast outlet last August. At the time, university president Gary Roberts cited financial constraints including the cost to move the station from its current location in Jobst Hall. The building is slated to be torn down this year. The demolition makes way for a parking lot and phase two of the school's new business and engineering complex.

Bradley University has employed Peoria Public Radio staff since it started in 1970. Under terms of the agreement, WCBU staff will be employed by Illinois State University. The new organizational chart shows 5 full-time equivalent positions and at least two part-time employees. WCBU currently employs six full-time, two part-time, and three hourly, temporary workers.

R C McBride
“Operational roles will be combined with staff in Bloomington-Normal, but there will be staff committed solely to WCBU, and they will be housed on Bradley’s campus,” said WGLT General Manager R.C. McBride. “We know some have been concerned about a potential loss of localism at WCBU. We plan to increase WCBU’s local content, just as we have been able to do at WGLT over the last several years.”  

Full-time professional positions moving forward will be subject to a competitive hiring process. Illinois State University will post the remaining WCBU professional staff positions on its website.

“Because we know there will be a reduction in staff, we are working with WCBU employees to identify opportunities that fit their skills,” said Zach Gorman, Bradley University’s Chief Information Officer.

The 15-page agreement outlines a transition period. All operations will transfer to WGLT by June 1. The transitional period ends September 30 when WGLT assumes all management and programming responsibilities.
Bradley University retains the broadcast license for WCBU. It’s signal remains at 89.9 FM and HD-1. 

The agreement states the station’s programming format will remain news-talk-information during the weekday. This includes Peoria-based news. Evening and weekend programming will change to a music format. The date for the programming changes is not specific. Bradley University retains the right to approve or reject programming under the agreement.

WCBU’s digital stations, known as HD-1 and HD-2, will also remain. WGLT will end it’s programming on station 103.5, which can be heard in greater-Peoria. That channel will air WCBU’s digital classical music programming. It’s unclear exactly when the change will occur.

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