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.
“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.