Brown Broadcasting Service has announced that Educational Media Foundation will begin operating 95.5 WBRU Providence on September 1 at 12:00am.
WPRI-TV reports that EMF will be paying $5.63 million for the station, which will be used to create an endowment to fund the two streams, podcast network, and educational opportunities that Brown Broadcasting Service will continue to operate under the WBRU name.
The station intends to find a terrestrial signal to carry its currently Sunday airing “The 360 Degree Experience in Sound” which features Urban and Urban AC programming. That and the primary Alternative Rock formats will both become 24/7 streams at WBRU.com.
Update 8/25: It appears a buyer has been found for Brown Broadcasting Service Alternative 95.5 WBRU Providence RI.
While nothing has been officially announced as of yet, RadioInsight has exclusively learned that Educational Media Foundation will acquire WBRU and will likely begin operating the station as an affiliate of its Christian AC “K-Love” network on or around September 1.
A call letter change was applied for today WBRU to become WLVO, calls that are currently in use by EMF’s 88.5 Halifax PA. Brown University’s Construction Permit for an LPFM on 101.1 in Providence has requested the WBRU-LP call letters for what is currently WPVD-LP. Unlike 95.5 WBRU, the LPFM is owned directly by Brown University’s Brown Student Radio. While the plan is for WBRU programming to continue online it is possible that some of it could also make its way to the non-commercial LPFM.
EMF’s “K-Love” is currently heard in the Providence market on 104.7 W284BA Warwick as well as stations in Westerly RI and New Bedford MA.
Update 11:45pm: WBRU has confirmed our report to WPRI-TV that the station will be sold to Educational Media Foundation with a license transfer application to be filed next week.
— Kim Kalunian (@KimKalunian) August 26, 2017
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and stay connected here at wbru.com/updates.