Radio silence: After 10 years Nanook hockey coverage moves off campus
Jeremia Schrock / Sun Star Reporter
Sept. 20, 2011
For the first time in 10 years, KSUA, the student-run radio station at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), will no longer provide coverage of campus sporting events. On Sept. 9, radio station KCBF signed a one-year contract with the UAF Athletics Department for the right to broadcast hockey games.
“KSUA did a great job broadcasting Nanook hockey for the last ten years,” Athletics Director Forrest Karr said. “Everyone involved with the program is very appreciative that KSUA was willing to broadcast games when nobody else was interested.”
There are several reasons for moving hockey coverage to KCBF, Karr said — better advertising for Nanook games, a wider audience of listeners and a central location for all radio coverage of Nanook sports.
KCBF management approached Karr during the summer, saying they could no longer broadcast basketball without additional advertising income. The best way to generate revenue, they said, was to broadcast hockey. The athletics department agreed.
KCBF is a commercial radio station while KSUA is non-commercial, meaning the campus station is not-for-profit and cannot earn income from advertising. KCBF’s head of programming is Glen “Glenner” Anderson, a well-known radio DJ who worked for KSUA in the 1980s. It was Anderson who, along with KCBF general manager Perry Walley, first approached the athletics department.
Karr and the KCBF management prioritized keeping Bruce Cech as announcer, Karr said. The department hired Cech as an independent contractor to announce hockey games. “He’s the voice of UAF hockey,” KSUA station manager Ephy Wheeler said.
Cech’s voice is familiar to fans, so it was important to keep him hosting hockey games, Karr said.
In the last fiscal year, the athletics department paid Cech more than $9,500. That figure includes $8,000 for hosting games and an additional $1,500 per diem. The department also covered Cech’s airfare, which came to almost $11,000.
During Wheeler’s first year as KSUA station manager, she said she believed they had paid an estimated $5,000 toward covering Cech’s salary and travel expenses. However, the athletics department never received payment from KSUA, Karr said.
The Face-Off Club – a local fundraising organization for UAF hockey – helped offset part of Cech’s salary, Karr said. The Face-Off Club paid Cech $6,800, according to a advertising revenue sheet emailed by Karr to both KSUA and this paper.
Cech believes having all Nanook sports coverage on one station will be “great”, but added he will miss working with KSUA. “Channon Price and his crew at the all volunteer station have been great,” he said. Price has been involved with KSUA for 18 years and advises the station.
While the athletics department believes the deal is good for both the university and its listeners, the staff at KSUA is unhappy with the move for two reasons. They now need to fill 8 hours of broadcast time each week during hockey season, and this situation shows how little respect university entities give the station, according to KSUA staff.
“We get overlooked,” said Rebecca File, program director at KSUA. UAF doesn’t respect KSUA because students run it, File said. “I mean, what if this had happened to KUAC? They would sit down with them and talk about it.”
“They don’t do that for us,” File said. “They just take it, and then we don’t have much of an explanation. We don’t get a chance to fix what was maybe wrong or what they didn’t like.” The staff at KSUA was unaware of the department’s plan to move hockey coverage until they received an email from Karr on Sept. 6.
“It was like a slap in the face,” Wheeler said.
If Wheeler had known the athletics department was interested in moving elsewhere, she would have put in a bid to keep hockey on the campus radio station, she said.
Moving hockey coverage to KCBF will allow more people greater access to the games. KCBF operates a 10,000w tower, while KSUA only has a 3,000w tower. W, or wattage, impacts coverage area. KCBF can reach listeners as far south as Healy, while KSUA cannot breach the hills that surround Fairbanks. KCBF will also stream hockey games on the web.
KSUA has several sport talk shows, but has no plans to live broadcast any other UAF sports.
“We truly appreciate the enormous effort that Channon Price and multiple students put into making sure the broadcasts were high quality and always done in a very professional manner,” Karr said.