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Urban Alternative Format Initiative Awarded 1.3 Million by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

The announced grants totaling $1.3 million for three public media stations to implement Urban Alternative formats to connect with young, multicultural audiences.

All Stations Need Record Label Servicing

The grants to (Houston Metro), WNSB (Norfolk, VA), and KUVO (Denver), will support their transitions to new locally customized formats using Hip Hop and R&B. The format borrows from the popularity of Urban contemporary music while remaining true to public radio’s values, ensuring thoughtful lyricism and storytelling.

“CPB is committed to partnering with stations to develop innovative ways to expand and grow the next generation of public media audiences,” said CPB Vice President for Radio Erika Pulley-Hayes. “The Urban Alternative format is a way for stations to capitalize on the growing appeal of this art form and build new connections with musicians and millennials in their local communities.”

Chicago Public Radio first launched the Urban Alternative format on its Vocalo signal in 2015 and has since seen growth in audiences, mobile app downloads, membership and online and in person engagement. CPB recognized the format’s early potential and funded research by Paragon Media Strategies in Chicago and four other U.S. markets in 2016. The research demonstrated the format’s potential for national appeal. Informed by the research, CPB invited stations to apply for grants to create a more contemporary sound and develop deeper connections to local multicultural communities.

The three stations will also work with Paragon Media Strategies to test and refine the format in their individual markets. Paragon will conduct research to identify the music mix that has the greatest local market appeal and assist the stations with launch plans, implementation and iteration over a two-year period.

Participating stations include:

KPVU, licensed to Prairie View A&M, is in the Houston metropolitan area, a top-10 radio market and the fourth largest U.S. population center that has the most equitable distribution of the nation’s major racial and ethnic groups.
WNSB, a mixed format station licensed to the Norfolk State University Board of Visitors in Virginia, has a coverage area population that is over 40 percent diverse.
Dual-licensee Rocky Mountain Public Media in Denver will leverage Urban Alternative content across platforms, including KUVO-FM and HD, KRMA-TV, and Denver Open Access Media, a local partnership broadcasting at 100 watts.

KPVU Contact:
Marquis Lofton
Program Director, KPVU
(404) 447-5573

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