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College Radio Watch: WBRU May Sell License and more News
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March 10, 2017
10:23 am
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We learned this week that Brown University's long-time commercial radio station WBRU may be up for sale. According to the Providence Journal:

In a letter sent to WBRU alumni [March 2]..., general manager and Brown University student Kishanee Haththotuwegama said the station's nine-member board of directors had passed a resolution to begin seeking a buyer. The Station Membership, which consists of about 50 Brown University students who work at the station, will vote March 11 on approving a possible sale."

The emailed letter sent to WBRU alumni states that, "Despite extensive efforts to remain sustainable, we've reached this point due to a decade of decline in the Providence radio market compounded with national decline in standalone radio stations." The letter goes on to argue that, "We're also faced with the reality that broadcast radio may not be the most engaging content distribution technology for the student workshop in the 21st century" and continues, "...we see great potential for using the several million dollars that the sale of the broadcast license will bring to finance a new workshop. We look towards developing a workshop that will be a multi-faceted, student-directed content creation entity that continues to further our mission statement."

The Brown Daily Herald reports that some WBRU alumni are not happy with this news and are hoping to encourage station leadership to not sell the license. The Brown Daily Herald writes, "In a letter to all WBRU alums, several former station members from between the classes of 1974 and 1999 wrote that they disagreed with the reasoning behind the sale. While they agreed that the radio profits have declined in the last several years, they argue that WBRU's revenues have plummeted far below the national average."

On Wednesday, The Brown Daily Herald offered further details, explaining that, "WBRU is owned by the non-profit Brown Broadcasting Services, which started in 1962 and operates independently from the University. The governance is composed of three parts: the board of directors, which is composed mostly of WBRU alums and serves as the overseeing body; the executive board of student leaders and the student station membership."

Indie Stalwart Calvin Johnson on the Value of College and Community Radio

I'm a big fan of Calvin Johnson's musical projects and his K Records label, so it was nice to see him weigh in on the importance of college and community radio in an interview with the College Heights Herald. In response to the question "How do you see community and college radio as a force of turning people on to new music as opposed to when you first started?," Johnson states:

People are definitely more aware of community radio and non-commercial radio. And they're more accepting of it than when I first started. Public radio was just seen as kind of boring and bland and people didn’t even know about it or listen to it, and now it’s a lot more of the go-to stations for a lot of people. It's much more established and it’s a lot more integrated into people's lifestyles.

It's still a meeting ground for people who are interested in music. It's still a place where people who are interested in weird stuff or a particular kind of music find each other. Both the programmers and the employees, the people that work there, but also the listeners. So, it's just a meeting place."

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