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February 29, 2008

KEDM 90.3 - FM kicks off digital conversion campaign

In an effort to provide the highest quality sound to its listener/members, KEDM-FM, northeast Louisiana’s only public radio station, has announced its major fundraising campaign to raise funds for a technology upgrade to digital broadcasting. The fundraising effort kicked off at a press conference Monday, Feb. 25.

Whitty Hood, president of Ouachita Independent Bank, was named as the chairman of the Digital Campaign Cabinet that will raise $150,000 to make the upgrade to digital broadcasting possible. “I’m very excited by this opportunity to lead KEDM into the next level of growth in the station’s ongoing mission to better serve their coverage area of northeast Louisiana and southern Arkansas. I want everyone to be proud to say I was part of the team that brought digital public radio to the Ark-La-Miss.”

Cynthia Perdue, KEDM-FM general manager holds to that view. “What an honor to have someone of the stature of Whitty Hood on-board to lead our fundraising efforts in this ground-breaking initiative for KEDM. We are confident he will motivate everyone to participate in making digital public radio a reality for our coverage area.”

More about KEDM/digital conversion:

Digital broadcasting means the station will send out an FM signal with static-free, crystal clear reception and CD quality sound. Additional channels will be available to the station for programs such as opera, news or a reading service for the visually-impaired. Information such as artists’ names, song titles, local weather alerts, school closings and other information will be able to scroll across the display on listener’s digital radios.

Hood added, “Our community cannot be left behind. KEDM is the last public radio station in the state to begin the digital process, and it is imperative that we raise the necessary funds. Our digital campaign team feels that KEDM is not only a cultural and informational asset to the community, but also an economic development tool to show prospective businesses the quality of this region.”

Dr. Bob Eisenstadt, ULM associate professor of economics and insurance, referenced the Economic Development Quarterly. “'The evidence indicates that employee retention as well as recruitment may be harmed by Q of Life deterioration…High environmental quality, culturally desirable working and living conditions, and convenient local amenities are believed to be vital to foster economic development and job creation by retaining local businesses and attracting inward investment.’

“This is especially true for footloose industries of the 21st century. Public radio – KEDM here in Monroe – sends a strong first signal (no pun intended) to businesses and households considering Monroe for relocation and investment that the people and institutions of northeast Louisiana are active and enthusiastic in their support for arts, education, and environmental quality. The lack of public radio is an experiment in development we surely don’t want to visit in the 21st century."

The cost of digital conversion is high. A matching grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has been awarded the station in the amount of $105,000. Local donors need to contribute $150,000 for KEDM to receive the grant and complete all the necessary upgrades to station equipment, making the total cost of the digital conversion $255,000.

There are several different levels of support:

Hood has appointed a fundraising cabinet to assist him in the efforts of raising the needed money. They are:

Hood added, “I am so pleased that community leaders of this caliber have agreed to step up to ensure we reach the goal in this necessary digital conversion project.”

KEDM is located on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Monroe. It recently celebrated its 16th anniversary of service as northeast Louisiana’s only public radio station.

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