Today it was announced that Centenary College plans to sell the license for its public radio station WNTI 91.9 FM to University of Pennsylvania for use as another outpost for programming from its Philadelphia-based public radio station WXPN-FM. The sale price is $1,250,000. Additionally, part of the contract specifies the equivalent of $500,000 in underwriting for Centenary College over the course of 10 years. The deal still needs to be approved by the FCC, although WXPN programming will begin airing over WNTI beginning at noon Eastern time this Thursday, October 15 as part of a lease agreement.
As we wrote last week, WNTI has been a locally-oriented public radio station in New Jersey, which up until recently aired a mix of syndicated shows, NPR news, and adult album alternative music programs hosted by local DJs.
According to a joint press release issued by WXPN and Centenary College today,
Roger LaMay, WXPN General Manager, said, ‘WXPN was approached with notification of the proposed sale of WNTI. Although we were not looking to purchase another radio station, we quickly realized that WXPN was the best option to preserve WNTI’s long tradition of musical discovery for listeners in Northern New Jersey and Northeastern Pennsylvania. We will extend WXPN’s demonstrated commitment to local artists, music and events in the communities we currently serve to the WNTI community, and will apply our deep experience in public music radio management to strengthen its overall operations.'”
As we learned last week, Centenary College plans to use its campus radio studio for a new Internet radio station for both students and community DJs. A statement by Centenary College President Dr. Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite promises that
Centenary will continue to operate its own Internet radio station at WNTI.org to enhance our curriculum and involve students and community volunteers in programming. Centenary students will be afforded opportunities to intern at WXPN at the University of Pennsylvania. We intend to reinvest the proceeds from the license sale in building Centenary’s academic offerings, to support student recruitment and retention, and fuel Centenary’s role as an economic engine in Warren County, New Jersey.”
WNTI supporters had been speculating last week that WXPN could have been a potential purchaser of the station. Although there are some similarities between the two stations musically (WNTI aired and will continue to air the WXPN-produced World Cafe), supporters are concerned about the loss of local New Jersey hosts when the station transitions to a feed from WXPN. It remains to be seen if there will be different content on WNTI-FM now or in the future.