KUVO's Carlos Lando on station merger with Rocky Mountain PBS, I-News

These days, radio and television stations are known in some quarters as "old media." How can such operations survive in the wake of the Internet revolution? By combining forces. At least that's the theory of folks at public-radio station KUVO, at 89.3 FM in Denver, public-TV service Rocky Mountain PBS, and the latter's affiliated I-News network, which are on the cusp of a formal merger. KUVO's Carlos Lando gives us the details.

According to Lando, KUVO's acting CEO and program director, conversations between the various parties have been ongoing for "a little under a year," with the assorted boards of directors hashing things out for "probably six months."

These efforts are coming to fruition. The boards at KUVO, which combines jazz and community programming, and Rocky Mountain PBS, the state's largest public-TV purveyor, have already approved a merger, but Lando expects a formal agreement to be signed this week in advance of a presentation to the FCC. The federal agency is likely to approve the move within the next several months.

For KUVO, the appeal of the new entity is multifaceted. "Number one, we're looking forward to additional resources in order to expand to a statewide network," he notes. "As you know, RMPBS has a lot of resources. They've got towers in places in the state that we don't. So we'll be able to solicit the FCC and find out what translator frequencies might be available in, for example, southern Colorado.

"This is also an opportunity to work on a much more diverse platform. The entire industry is changing -- the way we deliver our product. And with terrestrial radio, we need to embrace the technology. It means much more than just having a radio signal. It means you have to give people access to what you do on a number of platforms -- ones involving video and social-media networks and so many other things."

The wisdom of mergers between public radio and TV stations has been embraced on a national level. Lando points out that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, an agency that supports outlets like KUVO and Rocky Mountain PBS, has been encouraging operations from coast to coast to explore new partnerships. "They're actually putting up funds to look at how we can have a greater impact on the community by combining resources," he says.

While the pact between the parties hasn't been finalized, Lando reveals that some cooperative efforts are already underway, such as working together on marketing and other business matters. That suggests downsizing, but he doesn't see cuts in the cards, since KUVO is already a "really pared-down operation." An example: Rather than employing a business manager in recent years, the station has contracted with an outside company -- so getting together with RMPBS will actually save KUVO money in that area without necessitating any layoffs.

Lando stresses that KUVO will not be diluting its weekend programming or otherwise changing its format -- just enhancing it. "We have a very diverse audience, and I see us being able to do a lot more by cross-promoting things Rocky Mountain PBS puts on the air," he says. "They have a renewed commitment to bringing in Latino programming, and we'll be able to let people know about it. And we have a new commitment to news and information combined with jazz that will allow us to serve the community at a much broader level."

More information about the merger will be disclosed during a community meeting tonight at Su Teatro. It's scheduled to get underway at 6 p.m.

More from our Media archive circa 2009: "KUVO searches for new CEO in wake of Gene Craven's retirement."

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