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|Officials tout progress of KEDM project|
KEDM has more than $400,000 to proceed with its switch to digital broadcasting and tackle a project to increase the power of the station.
KEDM and University of Louisiana-Monroe officials held a news conference Monday to announce the successful conclusion of the KEDM Capital Fund Campaign, which will enable the public radio station to make the change to digital transmission.
In the coming weeks, the initial conversion will enable listeners with digital "HD radio" receivers to hear KEDM programming with "crystal clear, CD-quality sound."
Listeners might notice occasional temporary interruptions in KEDM's broadcasts during the next few weeks while the station's transmission facilities are being upgraded by the two projects.
The power upgrade will increase the station from its present 87.1 kilowatts to 100 kilowatts of radiated power and will replace a directional antenna with a non-directional antenna. This change will add approximately 21,000 new potential listeners to the KEDM coverage area.
"Unlike television conversion, radio's conversion to HD radio will not render your existing analog radios obsolete, but, it will require a new radio to take advantage of the new quality of the sound," said Joel Willer, director of university broadcasting.
KEDM will be the first radio station in northeast Louisiana to bring HD radio to the region. However, it is the last of the public radio stations in the state to convert to digital broadcasting.
KEDM raised almost $60,000 locally for the digital conversion project. The station also received $100,000 from the state, and $150,000 in federal grants.
The increased signal is being financed by the combination of a $115,377 grant from the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program and by two state grants totaling $28,570 administered by the Louisiana Educational Television Authority. Locally, $4,000 was raised to help finance the project to increase KEDM's signal.
Whitty Hood, president of Ouachita Independent Bank, served as chairman of the committee that spearheaded KEDM's efforts to raise money for the digital conversion project.
Hood said numerous people and businesses throughout the region donated money during the fundraising campaign, which lasted 13 months.
"I just want to say to all these people and businesses: thank you from the bottom of my heart, and the bottom of KEDM's heart for bringing northeast Louisiana up to the state of the art in public radio," Hood said.
He also thanked Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo and West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris and officials in both cities for their support of the campaign.
"They came to our aid countless times," Hood explained. "There were four or five times we thought we weren't going to raise the money."
Mayo commended all those involved in the fundraising campaign. He said public radio serves an important role in every community, adding that it is often used by governmental leaders to relay information to the public.
Norris also said he was a big fan of public radio, which he says offers shows that one cannot find on any other radio station.
Before KEDM was established, Norris said he would drive "west" on Saturdays so he could listen to the various shows offered by public radio in the Shreveport market.
"Public radio provides a service that no other medium provides," Norris said. "KEDM is my source of radio information, and it's not just a source of radio information, it's a great source of information. Thank you for having a station in northeast Louisiana, and right here on our campus."
ULM president James Cofer said KEDM provides a great public service. People can "learn a lot by listening to KEDM," according to Cofer.
"This really is a local treasure," Cofer said. "It's something we provide for everybody, and while it's not free, it's freely given by people's contributions."
"We do enjoy providing these programs," he continued. "With this new technology, it will be even bigger and better."