Note: KRCC is a member of the Mountain West News Bureau. In order to avoid a potential conflict of interest, this story was overseen by an outside editor.
Colorado Public Radio has signed a new agreement with Colorado College to help operate one of the state’s largest public radio stations, KRCC, an NPR member station based in Colorado Springs.
It will oversee the station’s newsroom, its finances, and will have a hand in programming. Friday’s announcement came as a surprise to most staff at KRCC, according to general manager Kyle Cunningham.
“I think we’re all dealing with a little bit of shock,” he said.
The partnership allows KRCC, which has a large coverage area but a small reporting staff, to continue operating under its own name and retain local hosts. But it will begin airing stories, features and shows from Colorado Public Radio, allowing that much bigger station, with dozens of reporters, to expand into the southern part of the state and northern New Mexico. Cunnigham is concerned about how this might affect the sound of his station.
“Colorado Public Radio has said that they commit to keeping KRCC’s news presence and our impact on the community in the forefront of their mind,” he said. “So that’s good to hear. But I think these things are always kind of scary even if they may be also exciting.”
The agreement means KRCC staff will eventually become employees of Colorado Public Radio. But the station’s president, Stewart Vanderwilt, stresses that there are no immediate layoff plans.
“This partnership isn’t about consolidation to reduce costs and create efficiencies,” he said. “It’s about adding scale and capacity to create and deliver more news that is important to the community.”
Vanderwilt envisions KRCC becoming a kind of hub for Colorado Public Radio — a station that continues to generate local content for Colorado Springs listeners while importing and exporting statewide news to and from CPR.
The move marks Colorado Public Radio’s latest expansion. Over the last two years the station has acquired hyper-local online news platform Denverite, hired new reporters across Colorado and launched an investigative team and a climate solutions reporting team.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado. Follow Nate Hegyi on Twitter @natehegyi.