Tacoma, WA — Friends of 88.5 FM, a nonprofit community organization formed to preserve local National Public Radio affiliate KPLU, announced today that they have received approval from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to take over operations of the station. The sale of KPLU to the Friends of 88.5 FM is expected to close August 30th or August 31st.
The station chose KNKX as its new call letters. Listeners were asked to submit their ideas to help decide which call letters best embody the success of the campaign, the future programs of the station and the spirit of the new community-owned station. Over 2,000 people submitted their ideas. The KPLU management team narrowed down the submissions, met with members of the Friends of 88.5 FM’s board, KPLU listeners and staff, as well as a local marketing firm, and decided on KNKX. The new call letters begin their on-air use on August 31st once the sale is complete.
An unprecedented “Save KPLU” fundraising effort among the station’s listeners resulted in more than 24,000 donations from over 18,000 donors contributing to the $7 million goal, which was reached on May 26, 2016. Additional contributions since that date have helped build a reserve fund to cover operations after the sale closes.
The purchase price for the station and its assets is $8 million: $7 million in cash plus $1 million of in kind-underwriting announcements to be provided to PLU over 10 years. As part of the agreement, Friends of 88.5 FM will use broadcast and office space in the Martin J. Neeb Center on the PLU campus and KPLU’s broadcast equipment in Seattle and Tacoma, at no cost, through June, 2019. It will also take ownership of all KPLU translators and transmitters. The community group will retain all KPLU employees, including the 14-member independent local news team.
“We are humbled and deeply gratified by the outpouring of support from the community,” said KPLU General Manager Joey Cohn. “Our listeners saved something they felt a personal and emotional connection to, and told us KPLU felt like their friends or family. We want to grow that connection and ingrain ourselves even more into the community. We want to be a resource that tells illuminating stories and plays wonderful music, so 88.5 FM can continue to be, as listeners have said, ‘a soundtrack to our daily lives’.”
Friends of 88.5 FM, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, is the entity responsible for the Save KPLU campaign and, after the closing of the sale, will oversee all station governance issues, including fiscal oversight, FCC compliance and policy decisions. A list of members of the Friends of 88.5 FM’s Board of Directors can be found at https://savekplu.org. As mandated by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the station will also maintain a Community Advisory Council. Together, these two groups are the primary means by which the community will have influence on the operations and direction of the station. About one-third of all public radio stations in the U.S. operate as community licensees, most notably WBEZ in Chicago, WNYC in New York, KQED in San Francisco, as well as local stations KEXP and KING-FM.
Additional information is available at https://savekplu.org.
Brenda Goldstein Young, Friends of 88.5 FM