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IPR's State Legislative Request: FY 2021


Iowa Public Radio (IPR) was created in 2004 by the Iowa Board of Regents to manage the public radio groups owned by Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa.  Pursuant to a Public Service Operating Agreement with the Board of Regents and the Universities, IPR manages 26 stations and serves 220,000 listeners statewide with three programming services: News, Classical, and Studio One. 

FY2021 Capital Request
WOI-FM Antenna, Transmitter and Transmission Line
KSUI Transmission Line and Studio-to-Transmitter Link
How you can help

FY 2021 Capital Request
IPR requests $1.2M for two high priority capital projects required for WOI-FM (flagship station for ISU’s radio group) and KSUI-FM (flagship station for U of I’s radio group).  These stations are two of the IPR network’s largest signals. Without timely attention, there is growing danger of significant failure. Iowa Public Radio and the Iowa Board of Regents respectfully request state support for these capital needs, which are explained in detail below. 

WOI-FM Antenna, Transmitter and Transmission Line
Request:  $875,000 for replacing WOI-FM antenna, transmission line, transmitter and studio-to-transmitter link
This project would replace the antenna and transmission system for WOI-FM, owned by, and licensed to, Iowa State University. WOI-FM is the main signal for the Iowa Public Radio network in the Des Moines/Ames area, and is an essential hub for our statewide network.  Originating in Ames, the signal serves 60,600 listeners in 15 counties in central Iowa with news, information and cultural programming. WOI-FM is very popular, averaging in the top 10 stations in the Des Moines metro market.

The Iowa Radio Reading Information Service, (IRIS), Iowa’s reading service for the blind, is carried on a sub-carrier of WOI-FM.

WOI-FM serves as the back-up to WHO in central Iowa for Iowa's Emergency Alert System. IPR stations are also a statewide distribution network for emergency alerts. If an Iowa radio station (commercial or non-commercial) cannot pick-up the primary WHO-AM signal, stations are instructed to pick up announcements from one of IPR’s 26 stations statewide. On the state level, the system is used for Amber Alerts, Tornado Warnings, and Flash Flood Warnings, with WHO-AM as a primary. IPR stations serve as a conduit for statewide distribution. 

Portions of WOI’s main transmitter system are 25 years old, and the analog-only backup transmitter is 40 years old. The WOI transmission line and antenna are also over 20 years old, and the transmission line 20’ segments are connected by obsolete clamps. A failure in any of the segments would likely necessitate replacement of the entire transmission line. The usual life of transmission systems is 15-20 years, so the current equipment is living on borrowed time. 

This project has been on our capital needs list since FY 2017, making this the fifth year we have requested this capital support. The need for this technology support becomes more urgent by the day.

KSUI Transmission Line and Studio-to-Transmitter Link
Request: $325,000 for replacing KSUI transmission line, studio-to-transmitter link
Replace transmission line, studio-to-transmitter link and remote control system for KSUI-FM, owned by, and licensed to, the University of Iowa. KSUI is IPR’s largest classical signal, serving 48,000 listeners in 13 counties in eastern Iowa each week. IPR’s classical service – with 10 stations statewide -- is the only statewide classical music radio service.  In addition to providing listeners with the very best in classical programming from the around the world, IPR classical also extends the reach of Iowa’s most respected cultural institutions, bringing performances from Iowa’s symphonies and opera companies to audiences far beyond the symphony hall. 

The transmission line, which connects the transmitter on the ground to the antenna on the tower, failed in late 2015.  Although many person hours were spent to repair the failure, the line is old and compromised, subjecting it to potential failure again without warning. KSUI is IPR’s primary classical signal, serving Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities, making it a high priority project. This project was on IPR’s capital needs list for FY 2019 and 2020, making this the third year we have requested support for this project.

How You Can Help!
Our ask to you as a loyal IPR listener is this: to please reach out to your local state legislators to urge support for IPR’s request for $1.2M from the Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals Appropriations Subcommittee to address these critical capital needs.

You can find your state legislators and their email address here. Then follow these quick and easy steps:

  1. Type in your address
  2. Find your state representatives
  3. Click through to find their respective email addresses
  4. Copy email template below
  5. Send email!

Dear [insert your Representative or Senator’s name]:

I am writing to request your support for Iowa Public Radio’s $1.2 M request for technology reinvestment support in the Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals Appropriations bill. Two of IPR’s largest stations, WOI-FM and KSUI-FM, have aging equipment that are in need of replacement. These stations provide high quality news and cultural programming and also serve as the backbone for Iowa’s emergency alert system. Without timely attention, there is growing danger of significant failure. 

Thank you for your support of Iowa’s public radio network.


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