NoVo in the Media

Kingston radio station dedicated to a “vibrant, just and healthy” city

07 August 2017
BY Ariél Zangla
PUBLISHED IN Daily Freeman News

KINGSTON, N.Y. — A nonprofit organization called Radio Kingston Corp. is buying WKNY-AM 1490 from Townsquare Media and launching a commercial-free platform “dedicated solely to a vibrant, just and healthy Kingston,” the group said Wednesday.

Jimmy Buff, who recently stepped down as program director and an on-air host at WDST-FM 100.1 in Woodstock, will serve as executive director of Radio Kingston and host a show on WKNY beginning later this year.

Radio Kingston, which approached Townsquare Media about buying the station, will purchase WKNY for $500,000, Buff said Wednesday. The sale will mark the second time in a four-year span that WKNY is changing hands.

“At a time when growing polarization, media consolidation, privatization and exploitation of community resources threaten the basic fabric of local communities, Radio Kingston hopes to demonstrate that a radically different path is possible,” the group said in a press release. “It will create a space for residents to build renewed trust, empathy and connection, while celebrating our shared strengths and creativity, and deepening a truly local conversation about creating a community that works better for everyone.”

Radio Kingston said the new WKNY’s programming will focus on community storytelling, artistic and musical expression, conversation and connection.

“The airwaves belong to the people,” Buff said in a phone interview. He said the community will be involved in determining the programming the station offers but that it will be a mix including music and talk.

Buff also said the group plans to keep all current WKNY hosts working, including Warren Lawrence, who has been with the station for more than 40 years.

Radio Kingston plans to host a series of community meetings in the fall to gather ideas for programming and also will set up a website and digital platforms. It expects new programming to begin in early 2018.

A website to be launched at will provide information and updates about community meetings, as well as share ideas and solicit feedback, the press release said.

WKNY first went on the air on Dec. 16, 1939, broadcasting from the Kingston High School auditorium. Its most recent change in ownership was in 2013, when Townsquare bought the station from Cumulus Media Holdings. The same deal gave Townsquare WPDH-FM 101.5, WCZX-FM 97.7 and WRRV-FM 92.7, among other local stations.

Townsquare owns more than 300 radio stations nationwide.

Radio Kingston, according to the press release, is an independent organization that will receive support from The Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley through a grant from the NoVo Foundation. Peter Buffett, who co-created the NoVo Foundation, will serve as board chairman for Radio Kingston.

Buff said the grant will support WKNY indefinitely and that the station will not be running commercials or seeking monetary support from listeners “at the outset.”