By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
CONCORDIA, Kans. -- Dublin, Ireland. A traveler stops into an Internet café and goes online. What he hears is programming from KNCK radio, halfway around the globe in rural Kansas. This tells us two things about KNCK: One is the station’s innovative use of technology, and the other is this station’s deep commitment to local coverage. It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
Joe Jindra is General Manager and co-owner of KNCK radio in Concordia, Kansas. He worked in this business from the ground up. In fact, while he was a senior in high school he started working at KNCK as a janitor. He also had the Sunday morning 11 to 1 shift on-air.
“It wasn’t much, because the Baptist church broadcast started at 11 and somebody else did the news at noon,” Joe said. “I did a few songs and then started the classical music program each week.” That was his humble beginning in broadcast.
Joe studied at Cloud County Community College and Kansas State while working in radio. His career took him to Norton, Beloit, and then Missouri and Arizona. In 1989, he and two partners bought the KNCK radio station back home in Concordia.
“I credit the previous owner, Bill Danenbarger,” Joe said. “He left a solid foundation.” KNCK radio opened in 1954. An FM affiliate opened in 1979.
Joe Jindra enhanced the station through the years. In 2000, they took the FM station from 6,000 watts to 100,000 watts.
“We covered less than two counties before,” Joe said. “Now we cover all or part of 16 counties in north central Kansas.”
Steve Smethers, associate director of K-State’s School of Journalism, and Gloria Freeland of the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media praise Joe Jindra’s commitment to local coverage.
“We’ve always had a full-time news director,” Joe said. “We regularly cover city commission meetings, school board meetings, and the community college board, plus election results and severe weather.” In fact, during the summer of 2010, Joe and his wife were visiting a Seattle Mariners baseball game in Seattle when his cell phone buzzed with a severe weather alert from back home in Kansas. The KNCK news team was on the job, reporting on a tornado in Cloud County.
“We do a local news broadcast four times a day, plus regular talk shows, a Thursday spotlight of upcoming events, and Coffee Time which is a local public affairs program,” Joe said. “Each month we broadcast a roundtable discussion with county, city, school board, community college, and economic development representatives. The River Valley Scoop is produced by our River Valley Extension District.” That’s in addition to sports and weather.”
The station also has embraced the opportunities of modern technology. Through the station’s website, www.knckradio.com, the locally produced programs are available online and on demand. Video of city council meetings is archived on the website, for example. Joe has listened online from as far away as Alaska and Dublin, Ireland. Wow.
“We want to be a positive voice for the community,” Joe said. “When there’s news, we report it without sugar-coating, but we don’t sensationalize. A year and half ago, we started a talk and opinion show called Talk of the Town. It wasn’t intended to be a show to hold local officials accountable, but it sometimes becomes that. We try to make the community a better place to live.”
Joe’s enthusiasm for Concordia and Cloud County comes through loud and clear. He served on the City Commission for eight years and is quick to point out the assets and enhancements of his community. “I love being an advocate for our community and our industry,” Joe said. In 2009, he was elected Chairman of the Board of the Kansas Association of Broadcasters.
Not bad for a kid who grew up at the rural community of Simpson, Kansas, population 110 people. Now, that’s rural.
It’s time to leave Dublin, where a listener can find radio programming online which originated halfway around the world in Concordia, Kansas. We commend Joe Jindra and the people of KNCK radio for making a difference with technology and local coverage. Through the web, this station has been able to take its local coverage world-wide.
Audio files and other Kansas Profile columns are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.
The mission of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development is to enhance rural development by helping rural people help themselves. The Kansas Profile radio series and columns are produced with assistance from the K-State Research and Extension Department of Communications News Unit. A photo of Ron Wilson is available at http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/news/sty/RonWilson.htm. Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.