KCLU will increase its reach in Santa Barbara County and northern Ventura County with the purchase of KIST-AM 1340.

The acquisition will boost the National Public Radio station’s signal in the city of Santa Barbara from four watts — which can’t penetrate some buildings — to a powerful 650 watts. In addition, the station will be heard on 1340 AM from Goleta and Isla Vista to Ventura County’s Rincon. In Santa Barbara County, KCLU is broadcast on 102.3 FM only in the city of Santa Barbara and part of Montecito.

KCLU, a community service of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, will be the only NPR station on AM radio in Southern California.

KCLU will continue to broadcast throughout Ventura County on 88.3 FM and in Santa Barbara on 102.3 FM. Oxnard and Ventura residents will be able to hear KCLU on 88.3 FM and 1340 AM. KCLU also can be heard around the world on www.kclu.org.

“We are looking forward to delivering a consistent, crystal-clear signal in the area,” KCLU General Manager Mary Olson said. “KCLU is already providing award-winning local news and public affairs coverage of Santa Barbara County, and this new signal will make it more accessible to our listeners.”

KCLU plans to begin broadcasting on the AM 1340 station within the next month pending Federal Communications Commission notification. Immediately after the switch, the same KCLU programming will be heard on all three stations. Eventually, the station plans to differentiate some programming to target each region.

CLU bought KIST, but the $1.44 million cost will be reimbursed as part of a $7.5 million capital campaign to fund improvements to KCLU. The station has received a $300,000 Challenge Grant from SAGE, a leading international publisher of journals, books and electronic media for academic, educational and professional markets. The grant will match gifts received for the acquisition. The Santa Barbara Foundation also has awarded KCLU an $85,000 grant for the purchase.

KCLU went on the air in Ventura County in 1994 and the signal was expanded into Santa Barbara four years later. The station now serves more than 70,000 listeners in the two counties. In the past five years, KCLU has received more than 100 major journalism awards for its local news coverage and public affairs programming.

“CLU is thrilled to help KCLU expand access to ‘Morning Edition,’ ‘CrossTalk’ and the other quality shows it airs,” CLU President Chris Kimball said. “The station’s programming is stronger than ever, and now its signal will have the power to match.”

Karin Grennan is California Lutheran University‘s media relations coordinator.