KWGS Expands Local News Programming, Names News Director

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ben Uzoh scored 13 points, including four free throws in the final 21 seconds, as Tulsa survived a late scoring drought to defeat Northwestern 68-59 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday night.

Durkee has more than three decades of news radio experience, including nearly 20 years as news director for Cox Radio-Tulsa stations KRMG, KWEN, KRAV, KJSR and KKCM. Prior to joining TU, he served as communications director for the City of Tulsa, a position he has held since June 2008. 

“This presents an exciting opportunity for me to tell thought-provoking, compelling stories about Tulsa and our region,” Durkee said. “I firmly believe that public radio offers a unique opportunity to explore complex issues from all angles. This is a crucial service that KWGS can provide with our news programming, and I am looking forward to establishing quality new programming for the station.”  

Mayor Kathy Taylor expressed her appreciation for his service to Tulsa.   “John is going back to his true passion – radio,” Taylor said. “We have been fortunate to have had John's experience at the City of Tulsa and I thank him for his service."  

Funding for the news director position was provided through a multi-year grant from the George Kaiser Family Foundation.  

KWGS is recognized for presenting award-winning local interview and music programming, but the station has not had local news programming in more than decade. Durkee is scheduled to begin working at TU in April, with his first broadcasts to follow a few weeks later.   Rich Fisher, general manager for KWGS, said Durkee will be providing in-depth, issues-oriented reporting that will supplement the station’s existing National Public Radio programs, such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered.  

“With the hiring of John Durkee as news director, we are aiming to create thoughtful, quality local news reporting that is consistent in quality with what is presented through our NPR programming,” Fisher said. The hiring of a news director is the station's first step in expanding its local news programming.

In addition to his employment with Cox Radio, Durkee also has served as operations manager for KFSB/KIXQ in Joplin, news director for KAKC/KBEZ radio in Tulsa and a reporter/producer with KTOK/Oklahoma News Network in Oklahoma City.  

About Public Radio Tulsa  

Public Radio 89.5 KWGS, a listener-supported radio service of The University of Tulsa, was the first non-commercial FM station in Oklahoma. Following its dedication on October 19, 1947, KWGS–whose call letters honor its benefactor, oilman William Grove Skelly–became one of America's first universities on the air.  

In 1978, KWGS became a National Public Radio affiliate. Classical 88.7 KWTU, a sister station, is northeastern Oklahoma's only full-time classical radio station. It was the first HD Radio station in Oklahoma when it signed on in October, 2004. Public Radio Tulsa is funded through listener contributions, including support from The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and The University of Tulsa. More information is online, including current program schedules, at    

David Hamby