DC3 and High Plains Public Radio are in preliminary talks to bring public radio programming to the college's station.

High Plains Public Radio may be acquiring a stronger signal for its programming in Dodge City through a partnership with Dodge City Community College.

"We’re in the middle of some discussions," DC3 Marketing Director Dave Wetmore said. "No plans, no details."

 "We're just in the exploratory stages, we're not sure what the outcome will be," said HPPR Executive Director Deb Oyler. "I'm excited to see where it will go."

HPPR broadcasts on KANZ 91.1 FM out of Garden City. While the signal is strong enough for most Dodge City drivers, reception on indoor radio sets can be spotty, Oyler said.

Broadcast towers similar to KANZ's 100 kilowatts have an average effective range of about 45 miles, though Kansas topography helps push that some. The distance between Dodge City and Garden City centers is about 52 miles.  

Weather, location in the city and other interferences can all play havoc at the edge of the service area.

Residents from Dodge City approached the station and later the college to find out what could be done.

"This is all community-driven," Oyler said.

"You don't have the long commute times in southwest Kansas and they want to listen to the radio on the weekend and in their homes. Some teachers want to use it in the classroom and they can't get the signal," Oyler said.

A partnership would have the added benefit for HPPR by expanding its reach; it is difficult and costly to secure more bandwidth on the FM spectrum, Oyler said. Auctions are highly competitive and can take years to award.

Of the 111 frequencies available on the FM spectrum, the lower 21, 89.7 MHz through 91.9 MHz, are reserved for non-commercial broadcasting including schools, religious organizations and public radio. In southwest Kansas, that segment is particularly busy, Oyler said.

DC3's station, KONQ 91.9 FM, is comparatively tiny at 2.6 kilowatts, but it's big enough to cover Dodge City and then some.

Wetmore said at this point in the discussions that it's not sure if an agreement would include compensation to the college, monetary or otherwise.

The college will retain its local programming for its educational benefit, Wetmore said, and has considerations with existing time-buyers on the channel.

But, "It should make a really good partnership," Wetmore said.

DC3 has held the rights to the frequency since 1990 under the call sign KINF, according to an FCC database. It changed to KONQ three years later.

DC3 has also held the broadcasting rights to a 1-kilowatt (90-watt at night) station on 1550 AM, under the call sign KDCC, since 1992.

HPPR operates 21 stations in west Kansas with stations in southern Nebraska, eastern Colorado, the Oklahoma panhandle and northern Texas. In addition to its headquarters in Garden City, the radio network has a studio in Amarillo, Texas.