Pacific Lutheran University and Friends of 88.5 FM, a nonprofit community organization formed to preserve local National Public Radio affiliate KPLU, announced today that they have reached an agreement that will allow Friends of 88.5 to assume ownership of the station pending approval by the Federal Communications Commission.
On Nov. 12, 2015, PLU and the University of Washington announced PLU’s intent to sell its broadcasting rights and facilities associated with KPLU to KUOW. Following listener outcry, the two universities agreed, in early January, to allow the Friends of 88.5 FM six months to raise a matching offer and enter into a definitive agreement on substantially the same terms as the UW agreement.
An unprecedented “Save KPLU” fundraising effort among the station’s listeners resulted in more than 24,000 donations from over 18,000 donors contributing to the $7 million goal, which was reached on May 26. Additional contributions have helped build a reserve fund to cover operations when the license assignment is completed.
The purchase price for the station and its assets is $8 million: $7 million in cash plus $1 million of in-kind underwriting announcements to be provided to PLU over 10 years. As part of the agreement, Friends of 88.5 FM will continue to use broadcast and office space in the Martin J. Neeb Center on the PLU campus and KPLU’s broadcast equipment in Seattle and Tacoma, at no cost, through June, 2019. It will also take ownership of all KPLU translators and transmitters. The community group will retain all KPLU employees, including the 14-member independent local news team.
“We are impressed by the fundraising effort undertaken by the Friends of 88.5 FM,” said PLU President Thomas W. Krise. “We thank the University of Washington for gracefully agreeing to step aside and let KPLU continue to serve its listeners with the news and jazz programming they have come to rely upon. We wish the community group well as they continue to serve and celebrate the greater Puget Sound area.”
— Friends of 88.5 FM