Friends of 88-5 FM, a local non-profit formed to ensure the future of public radio station KPLU (88.5 FM), announced today that it has submitted a Letter of Intent to Pacific Lutheran University setting forth principal terms for its purchase of KPLU.
“We are deeply grateful to the thousands of listeners who continue to give generously to support a civic and cultural treasure they believe in,” said Stephen Tan, former chair of KPLU’s Advisory Council who has stepped forward to chair the governing board of Friends of 88.5 FM. “With a robust schedule of community events, listener challenges, and support from regional businesses and major donors, we are confident that we will reach our fundraising goal by June 30. We look forward to meeting with Pacific Lutheran University soon to negotiate the Asset Purchase Agreement.”
On November 12, 2015, Pacific Lutheran University announced plans to sell KPLU to the University of Washington and its own public radio licensee, KUOW, for $7 million dollars and $1 million of in-kind underwriting. Under KUOW’s ownership, 88.5’s broadcast towers would be used to further the reach of KUOW. KPLU’s news service, reporters and community outreach programs would be disbanded, and current programming would be replaced by a 24-hour streaming jazz service.
Following a public outcry, Pacific Lutheran University announced on December 17, 2015, that it would sell KPLU’s license to a community group, provided that the group makes a substantially similar offer and the parties reach agreement on the principal terms of an Asset Purchase Agreement by June 30, 2016. The nonprofit Friends of 88.5 FM was formed to oversee the process—and fundraising—necessary to secure a community license and continue station operations.
Under the terms of the offer made by Friends of 88.5 FM, KPLU would retain its award-winning 16-person independent, local newsroom; a 12-person jazz and blues music staff; and Jazz24, a 24-hour high-definition streaming service that reaches 100,000 weekly listeners around the world. The station would also continue a longstanding commitment to local music education (including the widely acclaimed School of Jazz that pairs leading jazz professionals with local middle and high school jazz bands). In addition, the Letter Of Intent to purchase KPLU’s license calls for 88.5 to continue to operate out of the Martin J. Neeb Center, a broadcast facility on the Pacific Lutheran University campus built specifically for KPLU and funded by KPLU listeners and supporters (exact timeframe to be determined).
About one-third of all public radio stations in the United States hold community licenses, including industry leaders such as KERA (Dallas), KQED (San Francisco), WBEZ (Chicago), WGBH (Boston), and WNYC (New York).
About 88.5 KPLU
Consistently ranked as one of the most popular radio stations in the nation, KPLU has been bringing award-winning local and national news, jazz and blues to the Puget Sound area since 1966. Recent accolades include four 2016 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic excellence from the Radio Television Digital News Association, more than any other local public radio station in the region.
With a broadcast center in Tacoma and satellite offices in Seattle, the station produces nearly 6,000 hours of locally-produced news and music content each year, reaching 440,000 listeners and garnering more than 7.5 million views of KPLU Studio Sessions on its YouTube channel.
Since January 2016 an outpouring of support by the community for a community-owned license has included more than 50 special events in communities from Victoria, British Columbia to Olympia, Washington. Highlights include sold-out benefits at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley and at the University of Washington, and a proclamation by Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and the Tacoma City Council to name April 29 “Save KPLU Day.” Additional information is at kplu.org.