By GUY D’ASTOLFO
A conceptual agreement has been reached that would keep The Summit radio on the air in the Mahoning Valley.
The board of education for Struthers City Schools, which owns WKTL-90.7 FM radio station, approved a deal last week with the Akron radio station that has been providing WKTL with programming for the past three years.
The modern-rock station is based in Akron and calls itself The Summit. It uses the broadcast studio of WAPS-FM, which is owned by the Akron public school system. WAPS programming is broadcast into the Mahoning Valley through WKTL’s transmission tower.
Joe Nohra, superintendent of Struthers schools, stressed that the 8-year deal is contingent upon approval of the Akron school board.
“It is a partnership between Akron and Struthers schools,” he said.
Under the deal, The Summit will pay all costs associated with the station, including programming, equipment maintenance, and Federal Communications Commission license fees. It will also agree to provide programming that is appropriate for school-age children and the greater Struthers community.
Struthers schools will continue to own the station and its FCC license. The ethnic- music programs that WKTL airs every Saturday will continue.
A couple of competing proposals were also vying to take control of the station, but Nohra said sticking with Akron schools is the best route for the district.
“We’ve been working with them for a few years now,” he said. “It’s the Akron public schools that owns WAPS, and we are also a school system, and in terms of looking for grants and educational components for students, Akron schools is the best partner.”
A secondary reason for the decision, according to Nohra, was that The Summit’s proposal was the only one that had the money for continuous operation.
Tommy Bruno, station manager for The Summit, was very pleased with the Struthers school board’s decision.
“It’s a continuation,” he said of the deal. “We are not reinventing anything. Our existing three-year agreement expired at the end of 2012, and [under the conceptual agreement] we will take on the fiduciary duties of WKTL for the next eight years, including renewing the FCC license.”
Bruno said he will present the conceptual agreement to the Akron school board at its next meeting and expects the board will approve it by April 1.
The Summit, which plays quality rock music from bands that are often not mainstream, is financially supported in large part by “members” who make donations. It does not play commercials.
Bruno said The Summit has become part of the scene in the Youngstown-Struthers area.
“We’re not an out-of-town company. We have a great relationship with the Mahoning Valley, with members and volunteers in the area. We are enhancing the Mahoning Valley, making it a better place to live, and adding to its arts. It’s a heck of a relief to know we can continue.”