June 12, 2014

Featured business person: Debra Fraser

Debra Fraser

Debra Fraser

General manager, KMUW-Wichita Public Radio

After a year of uncharacteristic leisure, Fraser sounds like she’s ready to hit the ground running at Wichita’s public radio station.

Fraser, 47, was laid off as manager of Houston’s public radio station, KUHF, last June as part of a restructuring plan by Houston Public Media. One Houston-based website called her “a beloved radio personality.”

“It is now a staff of about 50,” Fraser said of her former employer. “It was a staff of 23, like KMUW is today. I got to grow it to where it is today. So I'm very excited about applying some lessons learned, and just seeing what we can do.”

Fraser is a Houston native who earned a communications degree for radio, TV and film at the University of Texas in Austin. After working for a station near that city for a year, she returned to her hometown, starting as a reporter and eventually becoming news director at KUHF. For the last six years of her 25 at KUHF, she was chief operating officer and station manager.

The station is affiliated with the University of Houston, “much like KMUW is with Wichita State University,” she said.

In addition to doubling the size of the staff, she set up the station's emergency alert system and led on-air fundraising campaigns that raised $13.6 million.

Fraser will start at KMUW on July 1.

Fraser said the plan for KMUW “is to grow and to grow pretty quickly.” The station “has already sort of grown out of” its current location on 17th Street, across the street from WSU.

“It's already well rooted in the community, well respected, doing a good job and wanting to do more,” she said of KMUW.

Fraser described herself as “a bit of a news junkie” with a preference for local news but said she also enjoys such National Public Radio programs as “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” “Prairie Home Companion” and “Car Talk.”

Fraser and her husband, Kevin Daly, have a 21-year-old son who is attending college in North Carolina. She said she didn’t take much time off during her years in Houston, but has spent much of the last year traveling with her husband.

“He'd already seen a lot of it, and now he’s showing me. I’m amazed at what our country has to offer.”

Joe Stumpe

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