Iowa Western Community College’s radio station, KIWR-FM The River, not only maintained its high ratings in 2021 but was largely self-sustaining, according to college officials.
“This was a very strong year for the radio station,” said Eddie Holtz, vice president of finance, during a Board of Trustees meeting Monday. “The college did not have to support the radio station at all.”
The alternative rock station at 89.7 sponsored two concerts last fall that were “extremely successful,” Holtz said. However, the college did place some advertisements — like other customers — and pay the station to broadcast its athletic events.
The River had revenue of over $616,000 and direct expenses of about $600,000, he said. For audit purposes, it must claim the cost of the space, indirect salaries and other perceived costs.
The station ranks fourth in the market in average listeners among people ages 18-34 and third among people ages 25-54, according to Nielsen ratings from last fall.
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“KIWR is once again standing out among the 20-plus stations in the Omaha market,” said Don Kohler, vice president of marketing and information technology. “We are definitely still one of the top stations in the market. We’re really the only alternative rock station on the entire (ratings) list.”
The station is required to follow FCC regulations, as well as guidelines of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kohler said. The station broadcasts a lot of programming from the CPB on Sundays.
The station broadcast 4,000 public service announcements during 2021, Kohler said.
“We’re very proud of the fact we promote not-for-profits in this community,” he said.
KIWR’s signal is sent in a directional broadcast to its main tower in Omaha, where a 100,000-watt transmitter sends it a couple hours in every direction, Kohler said.
“We can get to Des Moines, Lincoln — all over the place,” he said.
Said Holtz, “Most college stations at our level, they’re broadcasting on campus and maybe a few miles off.”
Iowa Western also rents space on the tower to a couple wireless carriers, he said.
Iowa Western President Dan Kinney said he had met with local legislators from the Iowa House and Senate Monday morning. He said Iowa’s community colleges, as a group, are asking for an additional $14 million in funding for the next fiscal year — partly for higher utility costs.
The college will provide emergency medical technician training on contract to several area fire departments, according to Matt Mancuso, executive director of economic and workforce development. The training will bring in about $17,000 for the college.