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BPR announces ‘Big Switch’: More news for more people

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BPR Tech
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Blue Ridge Public Radio announced today an upgrade to its services that will expand its capacity to provide 24/7 news and cultural and public affairs programming to an additional 250,000 people in Western North Carolina.

“The need and demand for trusted news in our region continues to grow steadily,” said Jeffrey Pope, BPR’s General Manager and CEO. “High-quality, fact-based journalism has never been more important to help people make informed decisions for themselves and their communities. With the Big Switch, BPR is investing in our news department and programming so new and longtime listeners can look forward to a stronger, more reliable radio signal for BPR News.”

BPR will swap the 20 frequencies of its two channels, BPR News and BPR Classic, during overnight hours on Monday, October 31. BPR’s “Big Switch” will increase the coverage area of its news-only programming channel to a reach of 525,000 people --from 275,000-- in 14 counties across the region. BPR Classic’s new coverage area will reach 275,000 people in Western North Carolina.

“This strategic decision is a win-win for BPR and listeners in our region,” said BPR Board of Directors chair John Noor. “BPR News gains stronger reach, and residents gain greater access to lifesaving information and crucial world-class journalism from BPR’s local news team, as well as NPR, the BBC, and other public media outlets.”

Due to the mountainous terrain of Western North Carolina, some BPR listeners will not be able to receive the channel of their choice after BPR’s Big Switch on October 31. Listeners can locate the 13 new frequencies for BPR News and seven new frequencies for BPR Classic here, and they can listen online here at BPR.org, on the free BPR mobile app, and on smart speakers.

For community members who are interested in BPR’s programming and public service, BPR will open applications for its Community Forum later this fall. The Community Forum is a volunteer advisory group that represents different backgrounds, geographic regions, and needs and interests of the communities BPR serves and provides feedback to the Board of Directors on whether the station’s programming and other significant policies are meeting the specialized educational and cultural needs of the communities served by the station. To apply and learn more, email feedback@bpr.org or call 828-210-4800.

With more than 15 years of nonprofit experience, Erin joined BPR in January 2020. She previously worked in digital marketing at NTEN in Portland, OR, marketing and communications at NPR in Washington, DC, and membership coordination at Nashville Public Radio in Nashville, TN. She began listening to The Diane Rehm Show on her father’s car radio in middle school, and she’s been a sustaining member of public radio stations across the country ever since.