NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Congratulations, Friends of 88.5 FM! $7 million raised to buy KPLU from Pacific Lutheran

This is tru­ly won­der­ful news:

The com­mu­ni­ty group hop­ing to pre­serve 88.5 FM as an inde­pen­dent radio sta­tion has hit its $7 mil­lion fundrais­ing goal a month ahead of sched­ule. KPLU Gen­er­al Man­ag­er Joey Cohn announced live on the air Thurs­day after­noon that near­ly 18,000 donors have raised enough mon­ey to make a bid for the sta­tion.

“It’s unprece­dent­ed, I mean, we’ve been say­ing we have made pub­lic radio his­to­ry, and we real­ly have,” said KPLU Gen­er­al Man­ag­er Joey Cohn. “To raise $7 mil­lion dol­lars in four and a half months — that’s nev­er been done.”

We at NPI are proud to have played our part in mak­ing this hap­pen. For the last few months, we’ve pro­mot­ed the cam­paign to save KPLU as an inde­pen­dent NPR affil­i­ate on our front page, encour­ag­ing vis­i­tors and sup­port­ers to donate.

It’s won­der­ful to hear that the $7 mil­lion need­ed to pur­chase the sta­tion from Pacif­ic Luther­an Uni­ver­si­ty has been raised ahead of sched­ule. Now, Friends of 88.5 FM can begin nego­ti­at­ing with uni­ver­si­ty offi­cials, who had orig­i­nal­ly planned to sell KPLU to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton to be fold­ed into KUOW.

If Friends of 88.5 FM can agree on terms with PLU and receive approval from the Fed­er­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion to become the new license hold­er, the UW has said it will with­draw its offer and allow the com­mu­ni­ty group to buy the sta­tion. The sta­tion would almost cer­tain­ly receive new call let­ters fol­low­ing the sale, though it would stay where it is on the radio dial.

As the Friends of 88.5 FAQ explains:

This detail will be part of the pur­chase agree­ment with PLU. The agree­ment between PLU and UW calls for a change in call let­ters, and there is an assump­tion that would be the case in an agree­ment with Friends. We plan to allow lis­ten­ers to make sug­ges­tions for what those should be. If we choose your sug­ges­tion, you’ll be the first to read the call let­ters live on the air!

The suc­cess of the fundrais­ing dri­ve is wel­come news for the hard­work­ing jour­nal­ists who work in 88.5’s vaunt­ed news­room. Their jobs have been in jeop­ardy ever since PLU unveiled its deal to sell KPLU to the UW. KUOW, UW’s NPR affil­i­ate, had been plan­ning to turn 88.5 into a jazz-only sta­tion, doing away with its cur­rent for­mat.

It’s also wel­come news for every pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tion (this one includ­ed) grave­ly con­cerned about the dam­age that most­ly-unchecked media con­sol­i­da­tion has been caus­ing to our region and our coun­try.

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