Baton Rouge's WRKF-FM has named Paul Maassen as its new president and general manager, sharing his services with WWNO-FM in New Orleans. WRKF also will explore a move to the LSU campus.
"We think the collaboration between New Orleans and Baton Rouge will open up a lot of opportunities for us, and quite frankly, not only are we getting someone who's experienced in this area, but it's a cost saving for us, too. So it's the best of both worlds," said Rodney Braxton, chairman of WRKF's board of directors.
Maassen has been the general manager of WWNO since 2008. He will split his time between the Baton Rouge and New Orleans National Public Radio member stations under the new management-sharing agreement.
WRKF is licensed to Public Radio Inc. of Baton Rouge, an independent nonprofit corporation governed by a volunteer, community-based board. WWNO is licensed to the University of New Orleans. Each station will remain under the authority and ownership of its current licensee.
The arrangement will allow WRKF to cut its costs by about $50,000 per year, while expanding the market for WRKF's original programming, Braxton said. Shared management also will increase the stations' opportunities for grant funding.
WRKF didn't originally plan to pursue shared management, but the opportunity arose and offered several pluses, Braxton said. The public radio market is changing, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funding to locally owned public radio stations, encourages this type of collaboration.
Meanwhile, discussions are underway with LSU, although those talks are in the beginning phases, Braxton said. Ideally, the station would like to work something out by the end of the year. The move from the station's Valley Creek Drive location to the LSU campus could take as long as 10 months.
The move to LSU isn't so much about cost savings as it is improving the station's profile and opportunities for students to work in radio, possibly through a collaboration with the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication, he said.