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WBRU Confirms Imminent Sale

95.5 WBRU Providence Brown Broadcasting Service UniversityBrown Broadcasting Service Alternative 95.5 WBRU Providence RI has confirmed recent reports that the station is about to be sold.

In a note posted on its website, WBRU states its intent to reinvest the revenue from the sale of its FM frequency into digital platforms for its primary Alternative format and its Sunday Hip-Hop “360 Degree Experience in Sound” programming through WBRU.com and new apps to be launched. The Providence Journal adds that the station would also add news based podcasts and form a research and development department to develop and test new media technology.

WBRU Board of Directors spokesman Art Norwalk told the Journal that the station is in active negotiations with a potential unnamed buyer but it should be finalized in “weeks as opposed to months”.

WBRU is one of the few university connected radio stations to operate commercially. It is owned by the independent non-profit Brown Broadcasting Service but staffed mainly by Brown students along with a few independent professionals. It has featured an Alternative Rock format since 1988 when it flipped from AOR.

The letter note posted on its website follows:

WBRU is not going away. While we are currently in the final stages of selling its FM broadcasting license, we have big plans. We are going to reinvest the revenue from the sale to continue creating music and news content for the southern New England community. This will be provided on various platforms—platforms that millions of people already use to access their music and news content in the car, on their phones and computers, and on home streaming devices.

Before we leave 95.5, 24/7 streams of both alternative rock and The 360 Degree Experience in Sound will be available at wbru.com and via our new smartphone apps. This marks the first time that either format has been available seven-days-a-week from WBRU.

Our mission statement directs us to be a self-supporting educational workshop focused on creating and distributing music-centric entertainment and news content. It is with serious consideration for this mission that we take this next step. With technologies and media habits changing so rapidly, we want to channel our energy and resources into creating a content-based media workshop with an eye towards innovation. WBRU has a storied history as a leader in innovation. We were one of the country’s first college radio stations and one of the first college stations to acquire a commercial FM license—before it was a popular platform. We were also among the first stations to stream on the Internet. It is with the same entrepreneurial spirit that we’re moving forward.

We deeply appreciate the support of our audience and advertisers over the years and hope the new WBRU will reach even more people in Rhode Island and the surrounding areas. We invite you to share your ideas with us: what would you like to see from WBRU in the future? You can reach us at [email protected], and stay connected here at wbru.com/updates.

Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

5 Comments


  1. Why do I have the sneaky feeling EMF will buy WBRU-95.5 and flip it to “K-Love”??

    (Of course, anyone might end up buying WBRU; it’s just that I’ve had this funny feeling since rumors about WBRU getting sold began that EMF would buy it and flip it to their K-Love contemporary Christian network.


    • I don’t think it’ll end up being EMF here, even though I assume that it kicked the metaphorical tires at some point. The ProJo story says that the negotiations now involve one potential buyer–and I can’t see EMF getting into a bidding war in this case. While it’s been aggressive in its expansion, EMF is also wise about not making overly expensive purchases.


  2. Could it be someone already in the market, who will then spin off a weaker signal to EMF? For example, I could see iHeart buying the 95.5 stick, moving WWBB there, and selling off 101.5 to someone like EMF. Remember 101.5 was neutered significantly (from full Class B to Class A) in order to upgrade 101.7 in Boston from A to B1


    • I’m not sure that anyone here would need to spin off a station to avoid going over the market cap. Off-hand, Cumulus might be closest to the cap right now, but might still be able to add another FM. (Of course, whether Cumulus or iHeart could afford to make a purchase here may be a different story. And, there’s always the potential of the DOJ getting involved.)


    • iHeartMedia is in no position to play musical chairs given the company’s financial situation.
      And B101.5 was not the only station downgraded by iHeartMedia in order to upgrade 101.7.

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