Monday, November 10, 2014

The X-Star Radio Network

In August of 2005 the  X-Star Radio Network went dark. The Xavier University Newswire had announced the sale the previous April. It was the end of the most promising non-commercial radio network in decades. It carried a mix of eclectic and local programming and NPR standards like Morning Edition and Fresh Air. The Story on the Cincinnati Public radio web page was "Sale of WVXU to WGUC will strengthen Xavier's educational commitment and preserve Cincinnati's public broadcast heritage." This is as dishonest as saying that degaussing and re-using VHS tapes is a way to preserve them. More here.

WVXU was founded in 1971 with a mere 10 watts broadcasting from the Xavier campus. Over three decades it grew into a 26,00 watt behemoth, But Xavier just was a 15 million dollar windfall. The X-Star network was built out in the 1990s. Xavier only took over WVXA in Rogers City in 1998. At it's peak the X-Star Network included:
91.7 WVXU Cincinnati, OH
96.7 WVXA Rogers City, MI
89.3 WVXC Chillicothe, OH
92.1 WVXH Harrison, MI
97.7 WVXM Maysville, KY
106.3 WVXI Crawfordsville, IN
95.1 WVXG Mount Gilead, OH
89.5 WVXW West Union, MI
89.3 WVXR New Paris, OH
95.3 W237CF Mackinaw City, MI

It was a pivotal year. PD James King admitted at the time that his Indiana and Michigan stations, were operating at about a 30 percent loss. His goal was to get solvent by 2001. he decided to cancel the network's long-running evening jazz programs in favor of national and local talk programs. Some of these programs had been on air over 18 years. Only two weekend jazz programs survived the culling: Charlie Carey's Story of Jazz and Bob Nave's Bop Connection. More here

King ultimately failed to keep it all together. Shortly after CPRI bought WVXU, it sold off most of the network. The Ohio frequencies were acquired by an evangelical broadcaster, Christian Voice of Central Ohio.  Those four Michigan stations were sold individually while WGUC focused on Ohio and tried to pay off the interest on those finance bonds.