In 1967, an act of Congress declared the development and growth of public media to be in the best interest of the public. With that law, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was born, paving the way for the incorporation of National Public Radio three years later.
"We in America have an appetite for excellence,” President Lyndon B. Johnson said before signing the Public Broadcasting Act into law. “So today we rededicate a part of the airwaves – which belong to all people – and we dedicate them for the enlightenment of all the people.”
In his speech, Johnson spoke of “miracles of communication,” referring to the relatively new medium of television and developments in computer and satellite technology. In fact, the words “and radio” had been left out of the speech and were stuck on with Scotch tape at the last minute. Johnson could never have imagined what public media would look like 50 years later. Today, almost 1,000 stations carry NPR programming. While 29 million listen to it on the radio, the network reaches a total 105 million, not only through broadcast but also through any internet-connected device. It also is the No. 1 podcast producer in the U.S.
KCUR joined National Public Radio as a charter member in 1971, just as NPR was first hitting the airwaves. Founded as a student-run station in1957 at what was then Kansas City University – thus the call letters KCUR – the station was well-positioned to be the local broadcaster for this pioneering news organization. Now a service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, KCUR is a 100,000-watt station that broadcasts 24 hours a day within a 90-mile radius of Kansas City. Each week, 175,000 people listen to KCUR and each month, 350,000 visit its website, KCUR.org. KCUR brings to our community NPR’s national perspective as well as a strong journalism-based commitment to local news.
In 1967, Lyndon Johnson promised public broadcasting would be “free, and it will be independent, and it will belong to all of our people.” At NPR and at KCUR, that promise remains as strong today as it was then.
WHAT WE DO
As a vital and vibrant institution, KCUR serves the public by reporting on and sharing information about local governments, politics, education, health care, arts and culture through the voices of the people living those stories. Through our journalism, we hold people in power accountable for their actions and track progress on their promises. We spotlight the creative works of artists, musicians and innovators who make the world and our community more vibrant. We bring people together through events intended to inspire and engage. We produce local programming that connects our audiences with issues, ideas and each other; we bring the world to Kansas City and Kansas Citians to one another.
WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
Shared knowledge is critical to a well-functioning society and participation in democratic processes. It is also a catalyst for human connection, empathy and compassion. We share knowledge to help people better understand the world around them so they can make informed decisions about their own lives as well as those of their families, friends and neighbors. We convene public conversations to create and strengthen the social fabrics that are crucial to progress in any community.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
We believe in access to quality news and information for all. We believe that journalism is knowledge with a specific function in society and the lives of individuals. We believe it is our duty to share that knowledge. To reach the widest audience possible, our journalism must be free and accessible to anyone and independent from influence. We believe journalism is critical to the connectivity and upward mobility of the Kansas City region and each individual who calls it home. We believe access to the arts nurtures the human spirit.
BUILDING THE FUTURE
It is our duty to grow and serve the Kansas City region to the best of our ability, adapting to changing needs, desires and platforms. We must always represent the diversity of our region in our staffing, outreach, sources and reporting. As technologies and behaviors change, we will meet our audiences where they are using the tools and methods of delivery they prefer. We must continuously identify financial models that allow us to uphold our mission, our promise and our beliefs. As a public service institution, we must proactively seek out audiences who don’t have the resources to find us individually. Above all, our work must be free for those who need it to be.