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Story Archives: Project worth recognizing
|Project worth recognizing|
In the fall of 2007, a committee was pieced together to raise money to help Monroe-based KEDM public radio pay the costs associated with converting to digital broadcasting.
The project arose in light of a movement across the country to convert all public radio stations to digital broadcasting. KEDM was the last public radio station in Louisiana to tackle the endeavor.
Whitty Hood, president of Ouachita Independent Bank, was tapped to chair the committee. The other members of the committee were Terry Baugh, West Monroe; Diane Cage, Monroe; Ronnie Darden, Columbia; John Denison, Monroe; former Senate President Randy Ewing, Quitman; Stacey Goff, Monroe; Sam Hanna Jr., Monroe; Jay Marx, Monroe; Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo; Phillip McCready, Bastrop; Lisa Miller, Monroe; Byron Moore, Ruston; West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris; Dr. King Scott, West Monroe; John Schween, Monroe; Jerome Vascocu, Rayville; Bill Walker, Winnsboro; Dr. Bob Webber, Monroe; and Fred Westrom, Monroe.
Over the course of the next 13 months, Hood spearheaded efforts among committee members to raise some $150,000. The $150,000 was needed to match a $105,000 grant KEDM received from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The $150,000 Hood's committee was charged with raising was a must, for if the committee failed to raise the money, KEDM would have lost the $105,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Armed with enormous support from Louisiana Economic Development Corp. (LEDC), the committee secured some $100,000 in state funding from the Legislature. State Sens. Mike Walsworth, Bob Kostelka and Francis Thompson, along with Reps. Kay Katz, Frank Hoffman, Rosalind Jones and Sam Little, played vital roles in steering the state appropriation through the Legislature to aid KEDM's cause.
Why state funding for a digital conversion project at a public radio station located on the campus at the University of Louisiana-Monroe?
Leaders in the economic development arena maintain public radio contributes to a community's quality of life. According to economic development officials, business and industry look closely at a community's quality of life when deciding whether to invest in that particular community.
That's why LEDC enthusiastically supported the committee's efforts to seek state funding for KEDM's digital conversion endeavor. That's also why the Legislature, as well as the Jindal administration, embraced it. After all, an improved quality of life in northeastern Louisiana—thanks to an improved public radio station—could aid the region's efforts to grow economically.
In the meantime, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the contributions private citizens and local businesses made to the digital conversion project. Their contributions totaled some $60,000. Had it not been for the money the community donated locally, the digital conversion project would have failed. With that thought in mind, the digital conversion project also would have failed if the committee had not been successful in convincing the Legislature to financially support KEDM's cause.
Instead, all parties involved—Hood's private citizen committee, LEDC and the Legislature—came together to support a worthwhile project, which aided a publicly owned entity that serves men, women and children from all walks of life.