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University of Washington to Assign KEXP License to Non-Profit Group that Manages Station

The University of Washington Regents have filed paperwork (PDF) with the FCC to assign the license for music-oriented public radio station KEXP-FM to the non-profit Friends of KEXP in exchange for “promotional consideration” valued at just over $4 million. The Seattle station, known as KEXP since 2001, was formerly the student-run radio station KCMU-FM, which launched at University of Washington in 1972. The call letters were changed to KEXP in 2001,  following the launch of a 10-year partnership with Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project.

Friends of KEXP is managed by a board that includes current station management (Station Director Tom Mara is the President) as well as representatives from the University of Washington. Although the proposal calls for the sale of the license to Friends of KEXP, the University of Washington will still provide KEXP with monetary and administrative support in the coming years.

The deal will mean that University of Washington will continue to get promoted via on-air announcements. For 10 years, at the top of every other hour, “KEXP Seattle, an affiliate of the University of Washington” will be announced during the station identification. Additionally, KEXP will air University of Washington underwriting announcements, will post online display ads, and will recognize University of Washington on the KEXP homepage and audio stream for 10 years.

According to an Agreement for Cooperation, Affiliation and Mutual Support included with the license assignment paperwork to the FCC,

Since 2001, Friends has managed the Station for the University…Over the period of Friends’ management of the Station, Friends’ vision for the Station’s future has matured and grown in sophistication. Friends has secured a lease for a permanent home for the Station at the Seattle Center. Friends has gained the wherewithal and the technical and financial tools to become the FCC licensee and steward of the Station.”

As part of the new 10-year agreement, Friends of KEXP will be considered an affiliate of University of Washington. The university will provide “fundraising and engineering support” and “technical services,” while KEXP will provide the university with promotion and board representation. This new agreement replaces an earlier 30-year agreement from 2011.


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2 Responses to University of Washington to Assign KEXP License to Non-Profit Group that Manages Station

  1. Jerry Drawhorn June 17, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    So the “promotional consideration” [perhaps a poor choice of words since “underwriting isn’tt supposed to “promote” but identify] worth $4 million are the underwriting announcements? Didn’t they get that on the student-run station? And also in the course of the current station agreement.

    It seems what they’ve done is actually retreat in the terms of the agreement from a thirty-year to a 10-year length. That seems to be more in synch with the licensing periods and may be a reaction to the KUSF-CPR fines. I wonder if U of W were also getting a monthly/annual fee previously – above and beyond the cost to operate the station and produce the programming…hence “monetizing” the license by selling programming.

    “The point of the rule is straightforward: it prevents NCE radio stations from selling program time at a profit. (Section 73.621(d) is the corollary rule for NCE television stations.)I HOPE THAT OUR Consent Decree IN THIS CASE WILL REMIND NCE licensees that they cannot monetize their licenses by selling program time for a profit.”

    The FCC was perhaps dropping a warning there, suggesting that other stations should get their LMA’s in line with this interpretation. They might act more harshly in the future.

    But what that means to these older cases (and I’m not saying I know that the UofW and Paul Allen’s group had an illegitimate LMA) is ambiguous. But, if say, a licensee was receiving $ 50K a month from 2001 that could amount to a fine of $8 million!!!

    So maybe many cases exist where there will be efforts to backtrack and rewrite the terms of previous agreements.

  2. unitron June 22, 2014 at 11:43 pm #

    ” Although the proposal calls for the sale of the license…”

    So you don’t have to bother with making the FCC happy or any of that “in the public interest” stuff anymore, you can just buy and sell ’em like baseball cards now?

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