What Happened to Saline County's Only Radio Station KEWI-AM?

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Mar. 24, 2014 12:00 am  

“We tried to work everything out,” said Grant Merrill, who purchased KEWI-AM in 2011. In February, he left the station, and it was silenced. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

He said the station currently uses old telephone lines, which will also be replaced with modern transmitter uplinks.

“We anticipate being back on the air sometime in the time frame of two or three weeks,” Wilkins said last week.

He’s also planning to augment the station to be able to broadcast FM signals. “One thing the previous management had always said was ‘we can go FM,’” Hutchinson said. “For various reasons that didn’t happen.”

He said, “We still have to get approval, and there are hoops to jump through,” but the station is on track to convert to FM.

“An FM translator can simulcast with an AM station,” Wilkins added.

He also said that KEWI will become the local ESPN affiliate.

“We’re also going to cover all the local sports and local news as well as state news,” he said.

“We’ll be the only St. Louis Cardinals affiliate in central Arkansas,” Hodges said.

The original owners and investors are pleased with the direction the station is taking post-Merrill.

“I’m thankful that Mike Wilkins … has stepped in and tried to bring things up to date and keep rolling with it,” said Jim Landers, who owned the station for 17 years and sold it to Merrill in 2011. “It’s sad that Benton would have to do without a radio station.”

As for Merrill’s departure, Landers said simply, “good riddance.”

Money that the investors lost, Arnold said, is already written off and the new managers are working on bringing the station back into the black. But, Arnold added, there may have been more at play than just mismanagement.



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