HARLINGEN, RGV – The Diocese of Brownsville has sought to reassure listeners to KMBH 88 FM – which carries NPR in the Rio Grande Valley – that the station is not for sale.
It was pledge week last week and Closer to Home presenter Mario Muñoz told listeners a number of times that the station was “not going anywhere” and was “not for sale.”
The Diocese owns KMBH 88 FM and it is concerned that pledges of support from listeners will drop off if people think the station is being sold. The Diocese is in the process of selling KMBH-TV, the Valley’s PBS station, to a commercial entity, MBTV Texas Valley, LLC.
Brenda Nettles Riojas, who handles public relations for the Diocese of Brownsville, gave the Guardian an update on KMBH 88 FM.
“To start, while KMBH radio and KMBH television share the same call sign, they are each operated under separate budgets. The television station does not underwrite radio, “Nettles Riojas said. “The radio station is not for sale and there are no current plans to change the format and programming of the station.”
In an email sent during last week’s pledge drive, Nettles Riojas said: “The radio station is currently promoting one of their annual pledge drives asking listeners to call in with their financial support. The station hosts four pledge drives a year. Grants are funded based on the level of community support. This is a perfect opportunity for the community to show their support for the radio station and let the station know what programs they enjoy.”
Nettles Riojas said it is “important to emphasize” that in addition to underwriting, “the programming is made possible by the listeners who call in and make a financial contribution.” She said there are several pledge levels available. “All levels of support are welcome. Every amount helps. Listeners can also become members with a pledge starting at $120, which translates to $20 a month for six months.”
The RGV Equal Voice Network, which comprises nine non-profit community groups that help in the Valley’s colonias, has launched a petition to stop the sale of KMBH-TV. It fears that PBS’s education programs for children would be lost to colonia kids. At a few recent events, Equal Voice leaders have been telling residents that NPR could also be lost to the Valley because once KMBH-TV is sold, KMBH 88 FM would lose its more profitable sister station. The Diocese has moved to quell such fears.