Northeast Indiana Public Radio has sold WCKZ-FM (91.3) in Orland and a related Fort Wayne translator to the Star Educational Media Network, pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission, NIPR officials said.

Star operates the Christian Fort Wayne radio station WLAB-FM (Star 88.3).

The purchase price was not disclosed.

Melissa Montana, president and CEO of Star Educational Media Network, said Star 88.3’s programming will be simulcast on WCKZ-FM, giving the network an opportunity to reach audiences farther north, including some areas of southern Michigan.

She said people spending time at the lakes in Noble and Steuben counties during the summer have long sought the network’s fare. Montana said Star also wants to reach people who have been struggling in a region hard-hit by the recession.

“We see it as touching more lives and reaching more people,” she said. “Hopefully bringing some hope to those people who are struggling.”

Star 88.3’s current signal begins to fade at Auburn in DeKalb County, Montana said.
WCKZ-FM now broadcasts classical music. NIPR also owns another classical station, WBNI-FM (94.1), and a news/jazz station, WBOI-FM (89.1).

Joan Baumgartner Brown, general manager of Northeast Indiana Public Radio, said NIPR is also trying to sell WBNI. The sales of WCKZ and WBNI, she said, stem from debt incurred when NIPR purchased WBNI in 2007.

Once both classical stations are sold, she said, classical music will disappear from NIPR’s analog products. The plan is to continue airing classical music on digital streams and the Internet.

“I know people are disappointed, and we are, too,” Brown said. “But this is a business decision, not a philosophical decision. We’re looking at the long-term financial health of the organization.”
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