PLU agrees to sell KPLU to community group, not KUOW | KUOW News and Information

PLU agrees to sell KPLU to community group, not KUOW

Jun 29, 2016

On Tuesday, Pacific Lutheran University made its plans for KPLU official. The university agreed to sell KPLU radio to a newly formed community group. That cancels KUOW's agreement to purchase the station.

The group Friends of 88.5 FM has already raised the $7 million needed to buy the station (and $1 million in underwriting for PLU). 

All it needs now is federal approval, which KPLU thinks could come as early as September.

KPLU general manager Joey Cohn said he feels relief and gratitude.

Cohn: "The most important lesson that we've learned through this process is that the community wants to be involved in KPLU closely... so we want to include them and ingrain ourselves into the community even more than we are now."

Last November PLU announced its intent to sell the news and jazz station to KUOW (which is licensed by the University of Washington).

But that would have closed KPLU's news room and led to layoffs, which prompted citizens to start a Save KPLU campaign. So, the two universities agreed to give the community group a chance to raise $7 million to buy the station.

KUOW general manager Caryn Mathes said she's disappointed KUOW won't acquire KPLU, but she wouldn't have done anything differently.

Mathes: "You know anytime you have ‘save us’ in your narrative that makes for a compelling argument. And so, they didn't feel that consolidation was the best thing, OK that's fair. My main goal was that it should remain a public radio asset for the community, and that's now happened."

KUOW has spent $243,000 on the acquisition effort, the majority of it for to legal counsel.

Some of the money also went to launching a pilot music service called Planet Jazz. KUOW leadership said they'll decide next month whether to continue the service.

Meanwhile, the news will keep playing on KPLU, but the station's name will change. Cohn said in keeping with KPLU's community ties, they'll have the public submit name suggestions.

 KUOW has hired an independent editor to oversee coverage of this story.