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

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

KPLU SAVED! Deal with KUOW is off, 88.5 FM to become an independent NPR affiliate

A major vic­to­ry for media diver­si­ty and inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism has been won today with the news that Pacif­ic Luther­an Uni­ver­si­ty has agreed to sell NPR affil­i­ate KPLU to the non­prof­it group Friends of 88.5 FM, which suc­cess­ful­ly raised $7 mil­lion in the span of just a few months to keep the sta­tion independent.

The just-announced agree­ment nix­es a plan hatched in secret last year to to merge KPLU and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton-owned KUOW, which would have meant the loss of one of the region’s most respect­ed newsrooms.

Assum­ing the Fed­er­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion signs off, 88.5 FM will soon be get­ting new call let­ters and declar­ing its inde­pen­dence from Pacif­ic Luther­an Uni­ver­si­ty, like­ly this autumn. It will be allowed to con­tin­ue using PLU facil­i­ties rent-free for three years, after which it will seek to move into a new home.

“I just want to thank every­one who donat­ed time, donat­ed mon­ey, helped out in any way, spoke up. You were heard, and it looks like we’re going to be suc­cess­ful,” said Friends of 88.5 FM Chair­man Stephen Tan.

“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.”

Many oth­er NPR affil­i­ates around the coun­try are also owned by com­mu­ni­ty licensees. It’s won­der­ful to see 88.5 FM join the inde­pen­dent media movement.

In a state­ment, the lead­er­ship of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton con­firmed that its agree­ment to pur­chase KPLU from PLU had been ter­mi­nat­ed.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to the Friends of 88.5 on their agree­ment with Pacif­ic Luther­an Uni­ver­si­ty to pur­chase KPLU, and on the unprece­dent­ed fundrais­ing effort that made it pos­si­ble,” said Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton Pres­i­dent Ana Mari Cauce. “We are delight­ed they were able to make it happen.”

“The gen­eros­i­ty of KPLU’s lis­ten­ers is a tes­ta­ment both to the excel­lence of the station’s pro­gram­ming and to the deep affec­tion that Puget Sound lis­ten­ers hold for pub­lic radio,” said KUOW Gen­er­al Man­ag­er Caryn Mathes.

“Through the North­west News Net­work, KUOW has long part­nered with KPLU to pro­vide lis­ten­ers of both sta­tions with cov­er­age of state gov­ern­ment and oth­er region­al news. We look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing that part­ner­ship as the Friends of 88.5 assume the oper­a­tion of the station.”

All of us at NPI con­grat­u­late Friends of 88.5 FM on the suc­cess­ful fundrais­ing cam­paign and suc­cess­ful nego­ti­a­tions to buy the sta­tion from PLU. We were proud to sup­port the dri­ve and fea­ture a link to donate to make 88.5 FM inde­pen­dent on our home­page from the cam­paign’s incep­tion through its glo­ri­ous finish.

This is tru­ly a great out­come, and every­one who had any­thing to do with it can feel very proud that the sta­tion will live on as an inde­pen­dent NPR affiliate.

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