BY MELANIE BUCK –
Mena Superintendent Benny Weston, Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Tim Harper and Pulse Multi-Media General Manager LeAnn Dilbeck have announced that beginning this fall, all Mena sports broadcasts can be found exclusively on the local KQOR 105.3 FM station. Pulse Multi-Media will be expanding its radio sports coverage for Mena beyond just football & basketball to also include volleyball, baseball and softball. Harper expressed his enthusiasm and what it means for the sports programs, “We are excited about the Bearcats and Ladycats having their own channel for our fans to follow us!”
Dilbeck explained that in expanding the radio broadcasts to include the additional sports, some of the games such as volleyball, baseball, etc., will begin in the afternoon and would conflict with the 5:05 p.m. KENA 104.1 FM news broadcasts and other scheduled programming that has a very loyal audience. “By us dedicating KQOR for all Mena sports, faithful Bearcat and Ladycat fans will always know where to go to find the radio broadcasts.”
Radio broadcasts will also be streamed at MyPulseNews.com for desktop/laptop users and may also be listened to from all smart devices via a new TuneIn app that is in development but will be launched by the first game.
The radio sports broadcasts are at no cost to the Mena district. Dilbeck added her appreciation to the local businesses who continue to step-up each year buying sponsorships and making these Bearcat/Ladycat radio broadcasts possible. “And I know many family members and alumni around the globe are going to appreciate being able to follow online and with apps, from their smart phones and tablets as well. It’s the beauty of technology!”
During the July school board meeting, school board member Robby Hines expressed concern since KQOR was a smaller station than KENA; however, fellow school board member Clint Montgomery explained that with the app, the wattage of the station became a moot point. Dilbeck added that the latest Nielsen ratings showed KQOR’s audience to be gaining with the well-known KENA station.
As an added bonus, Pulse Multi-Media is planning a live remote for the season kick-off with plenty of giveaways. “You know when you put a bunch of loyal Bearcat fans and radio fans together, you’re going to have a good time!” Dilbeck added, “Radio has enjoyed broadcasting Bearcat football for over 45 years and this year is certainly no exception!”
Dilbeck said that while the Pulse has thoroughly enjoyed providing live-streaming video of the Bearcats/Ladycats, that service has been relinquished to the Bearcat Foundation, Inc. (BFI), “We wish them well in their endeavor.” She clarified that while they will not be providing any Mena video broadcasts, Pulse Multi-Media is still very much in the video business and will be announcing additional video broadcasts in the future.
Also a topic of discussion during the meeting was an advertising agreement presented by Weston in response to a directive from the school board for a more aggressive marketing campaign as a result of the district’s loss of 60+ students in the preceding academic year. The agreement with Pulse Multi-Media would provide multi-platform advertisements in print, radio and online to coincide with new billboards recently purchased by the district as well. Hines made a motion to accept the agreement that was unanimously approved 5-0 by fellow members Edd Puckett, Clint Montgomery, Kyle Cannon and Judith Roberson.
Weston also presented a proposal from the Union Bank of Mena to replace the current scoreboard at Bearcat stadium in return for a minimum of 10-year naming rights for the bank on the new board. Montgomery made the motion to accept that was seconded by Puckett and unanimously approved by fellow board members.
The board also approved a 3-phase project involving upgrades to seating at the stadium that, when complete, would provide new stands for the visitors, a separate section for the Bearcat marching band, and approximately 200 chair back seats on the home side.
The Bearcat Foundation, Inc., (BFI) and the Mena Youth Football Association agreed to donate a combined $60,000 toward the project contingent upon the school board approving all three phases.
Phase 1, which will begin immediately and will be funded through the district, includes new 175’, 10-row elevated bleachers, for the visitors side of Bearcat stadium that Weston explained had become a severe safety concern. The new bleachers will offer approximately 983 seating capacity, 10 of which will be ADA compliant. The project that was approved during the July meeting will allow for the removal and disposal of the current wooden seats and treads but preserve the angle framing to be used in the construction of new bleachers for the Mena band. The visitors’ bleachers will receive a galvanized steel angle understructure, chain link guardrail system, and handicap ramp at a cost of $116,000. The cost for the new concrete piers and slab are not included in that bid. Weston said work will begin as soon as possible and is projected to be complete by the first home game.
Phase 2 would utilize the angle framing from the old visitors bleachers to construct a new 8-row 36’ band section. The aluminum stringers and planks needed for the seating would be removed and preserved from a section of the current home bleacher system, which rolls into Phase 3.
Phase 3 would be the removal of 10 rows from the center section on the home side and replaced with chair back seating, a request that school officials explain has been continuous for the last several years. The first 9 rows of the section would remain bench style and the chair backs would begin on row 10. There was discussion that the chair backs would be reserved seating per season but who would receive those funds, BFI or the district, was not determined.
After lengthy discussion, the board approved to move forward with the three-phased project but with no timeline restrictions. Phase 1 is funded and will begin immediately. Phase 2 and 3 will be completed as funding is allowed. Weston expressed his approval by saying, “The most heavily used facility in the district will be safe and accommodating for our own students, community members, and visitors.”