A local group has succeeded in raising the $2.4 million required to purchase National Public Radio affiliate KCPW.
Ed Sweeney, president of Wasatch Public Media Inc. and former general manager at KCPW, said Thursday that Wasatch Public Media has raised $815,000 from approximately 835 donors who have supported their efforts to keep the station locally owned.
The station's established listener base "stepped up" to help his group accomplish its goal of purchasing the station, he said. Some longtime donors, including the Stephen G. and Susan E. Denkers Foundation, also were instrumental in providing the much-needed financial support required to help make the purchase happen. But most of the donations came from listeners and supporters of KCPW.
"They ranged from the largest gift of $220,000 down to 20 bucks," Sweeney said.
In addition to the donations, National Consumer Cooperative Bank, a Washington, D.C.-based financial institution, on Tuesday committed to lend Wasatch Public Media $2.2 million to buy KCPW-FM. The agreement came one day before the deadline Wasatch Public Media had to meet to prevent the station from being sold to a rival bidder.
Sweeney said his group would contribute the $200,000 balance. If the deal is approved, it is expected to close in October, he said.
The board of trustees of the current station owner Community Wireless of Park City was scheduled to meet Thursday night to consider whether to accept the group's $2.4 million offer. The vote comes in the wake of weeks of discussions and fundraising efforts by Wasatch Public Media.
In March, the board voted unanimously to sign a letter of intent to sell the assets of KCPW FM to Wasatch Public Media for $2.4 million. The KCPW AM station was to be sold to IHR Educational Broadcasting, a network of Catholic radio stations, for $1.3 million, according to a statement from the Community Wireless board.
IHR Educational Broadcasting is the corporate name of Immaculate Heart Radio, a nonprofit Catholic broadcaster based in Fair Oaks, Calif. The assets of the KCPW AM station consist primarily of a broadcasting tower and the licenses to broadcast on the 1010 AM frequency.
Sweeney has said his group is committed to maintaining KCPW FM's existing National Public Radio format. He estimated that the station has about 50,000 listeners, mostly in the Salt Lake metro area. He said his group will make efforts to expand the station's audience and increase its financial support base.Community Wireless is the parent company of Park City-based NPR affiliate KPCW FM, which earlier this year announced its intention to sell the Salt Lake radio properties in order to focus on KPCW-FM in Park City.