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Civic-Minded Donors Contribute $3 Million to Help Fund Unique Media Merger For Deeper, Expanded Coverage

STL Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio Merger Staff
Jess Luther
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The newly-combined newsroom of St. Louis Public Radio / Beacon

Twenty-four individuals, four foundations and two trusts have contributed $3 million to support the expanded news operation of St. Louis Public Radio – the local NPR member station licensed to the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

The expanded newsroom is the result of a merger that integrated 13 veteran journalists from the online news publication St. Louis Beacon into St. Louis Public Radio late last year. The combined news staff is located at UMSL at Grand Center, 3651 Olive St. in St. Louis, which houses university classrooms and St. Louis Public Radio. Grand Center is the region’s largest arts and entertainment district.

Longtime benefactor of St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, contributed a $1 million lead gift.

Donors contributing more than $100,000 include Josephine and Richard Weil, Connie and Dan Burkhardt, Nancy and Ken Kranzberg, William H. Danforth, M.D., Harriet and Leon Felman and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The merger, the first of its kind in public radio, brings together two fully-staffed newsrooms to provide expanded in-depth coverage of the stories and issues that affect the St. Louis region. As the consumption of news across digital platforms has increased significantly over the past several years, the need to reach more people in more places has become paramount. The merger, which provides for robust coverage both on air and online, came about to enable people to become more deeply informed of the issues that affect their lives, to be better prepared to make decisions and to become more engaged in the community.

We’ve created a national model for a sustainable, multiplatform news operation that can provide in-depth coverage of issues important to a vibrant democracy and flourishing region
Tom George, UMSL Chancellor

The St. Louis Beacon began publishing in 2008 as an exclusively on-line, not-for-profit news organization. Margaret Wolf Freivogel, a veteran journalist and former reporter and editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was a Beacon founder and served as editor throughout the publication’s life. Freivogel worked closely with St. Louis Public Radio’s general manager Tim Eby in seeing the historic merger of the two media into one multi-platform organization.

As more people continue to seek news and information in different ways on different platforms, St. Louis Public Radio will create content that offers insight, has long-term value, and has the potential to stimulate and promote conversation within four areas of inquiry.

How We Learn:

A focus on how education and lifelong learning can be transformative for our region;

How We Grow:

A focus on economic development, sustainable growth, jobs, urban planning and environmental issues;

How We Live:

A focus on the people, neighborhoods, culture and diversity of experience within our community;

How We Decide:

A focus on policy- and decision making, and the mechanisms of elections, with an emphasis on information that helps people weigh options and take action.

Since combining forces on December 11, 2013, St. Louis Public Radio has seen a strong increase in audience on its web site, a deepening of engagement with people across social media and increase in the stations’ radio market share. St. Louis Public Radio is now serving the St. Louis community better than ever before and is better suited to provide seamless coverage across its many platforms.

“This is a unique endeavor that might not have been possible without the generous support of individuals and foundations whose interest is community development and an informed democracy,” said Tim Eby, general manager of St. Louis Public Radio

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St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU and Quincy Public Radio | 90.3 WQUB provide the St. Louis and Quincy regions award-winning, in-depth news on-air and online, insightful discussion, and entertaining programs that focus on the issues and people who shape our communities, our country and our world. Signature programs include: Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, This American Life, Marketplace, Car Talk, St. Louis on the Air, BBC World Service, The Tavis Smiley Show, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and A Prairie Home Companion.

St. Louis Public Radio, which broadcasts in HD on 90.7, 90.7-2 and 90.7-3, and is online at www.stlpublicradio.org reaches 515,000 people a month in the bi-state area. Quincy Public Radio, which broadcasts in HD on 90.3, reaches nine counties in western Illinois and northeastern Missouri.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.