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WXPN Philadelphia Acquires WNTI Hackettstown, NJ

91.9 WNTI Hackettstown Centenary College NPRUpdate 10/12: University of Pennsylvania AAA 88.5 WXPN Philadelphia has announced it is the buyer of 91.9 WNTI Hackettstown, NJ from Centenary College.

WXPN will pay $1,250,000 in cash and give Centenary $500,000 worth of underwriting over 10 years for the station. WXPN will begin airing its programming on WNTI on Thursday, October 15 at 12:00pm when it begins operating the station via Public Service Operating Agreement.

Today Centenary College of Hackettstown, New Jersey and Philadelphia public radio station WXPN 88.5, owned by the University of Pennsylvania, jointly announced a sales agreement and transfer of ownership for the broadcasting license of WNTI 91.9 FM, the public radio station owned by Centenary College, to WXPN. WXPN’s award-winning music programming will be broadcast on WNTI starting at noon ET on Thursday, October 15.

“We are pleased to reach this agreement with WXPN, which preserves a strong voice for great music in our region and opens new horizons for the WNTI community and for Centenary College,” said Dr. Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, President of Centenary College. “WXPN brings exceptional resources and expertise in public radio and a deep commitment to serving the needs of listeners and supporting local artists. 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.”

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. In the long term, we expect this transaction to benefit our artists and audiences, and strengthen WXPN’s financial sustainability.”

WXPN produces NPR’s most popular program of popular music, World Cafe, which was heard on WNTI twice daily and will remain part of its music programming.

The Public Service Operating Agreement will start at noon ET on Thursday, October 15, 2015. WXPN programming will begin at 91.9 FM at that time. FCC approval of the transaction is expected to take 60 to 90 days after the filing.

Sale price is $1,250,000 in cash and another $500,000 in underwriting value over 10 years.Public Media Company represented WXPN/University of Pennsylvania throughout the transaction. Centenary College was represented by Patrick Communications.

Update 10/7: Centenary College has released the following statement on its sale of AAA 91.9 WNTI Hackettstown, NJ:

Centenary College’s mission is to provide a quality liberal arts education with a strong career focus. To deliver on this promise, we constantly evaluate Centenary’s operations and assets to ensure we are delivering on our top priority — providing our students with a rewarding educational experience that prepares them for the future.

As part of this ongoing review, we have decided to transfer Centenary’s broadcasting license to another public radio station. We are in the process of finalizing the sales agreement with the new operator, who shares WNTI’s commitment to great music and has the resources to serve the needs of local listeners for many years to come. The proceeds from the sale of the license will be re-invested in Centenary’s academic programs, to benefit current and future students. Centenary will retain its on-campus studio and will continue to operate an internet radio station at WNTI.org, and we will develop new opportunities for students to participate in its operation, along with WNTI’s community volunteers.

WNTI was established over 50 years ago as a college radio station to serve the Centenary campus and to help our students gain first-hand experience in broadcasting. Over time, WNTI evolved from a student-run station into a National Public Radio station serving a regional audience, with a dedicated team of community volunteers and many loyal listeners. Now WNTI is going in a new direction. The change we are undertaking is difficult, but we firmly believe is in the best long-term interests of Centenary College and the greater community served by WNTI.

The buyer will not be identified until the sale is finalized and the agreement is filed with the FCC.

Original Report 10/6: Centenary College AAA 91.9 WNTI Hackettstown, NJ has locked out its airstaff as the station will be leased out to an as yet unknown Public Radio operator.

NJArts.net reports that the mostly volunteer airstaff were locked out of the studio on Monday. While one staffer there says that the station was sold to NPR, we know that not to be the case as National Public Radio does not own or directly operate any stations directly. Another staffer is quoted as saying WNTI will be leased to another public radio operator which makes much more sense. Centenary College intends to relaunch the station as a student run webcaster.

WNTI serves the northwestern corner of New Jersey and Stroudsburg, PA (Coverage Map).

Profile photo of Lance Venta
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.

7 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Eric Jon Magnuson


    Newer stories (e.g., http://patch.com/new-jersey/hackettstown/wnti-over-centenary-college-radio-station-reportedly-sold-0) carry some version of this statement from the College…

    “Centenary College has been exploring new directions for WNTI – ones that will ensure the station’s listeners will continue to enjoy the music they love. The College will release more information once it becomes available in the near future.”

  2. Profile photo of joseph_gallant


    In all likelihood, WNTI-91.9 will become part of New Jersey Public Radio (run by New York’s WNYC stations) and will likely run public radio news/information programing 24/7.

    While NJPR has a transmitter in Northwest New Jersey, WNTI has a much larger signal area, and this will allow many thousands of additional people in that area to get NPR news/information programming on a stronger signal.

    This may again repeat itself in the future at other college/community non-commercial stations. In some cases, these stations will switch to NPR membership (for noncommercial radio stations, NPR news/information programming bring-in a lot of pledge $$$ from listeners; music and other programming does not) or will sell to someone who will make the station an NPR member

    • Profile photo of Eric Jon Magnuson


      While I definitely can’t rule out NJPR/WNYC, the Lehigh Valley’s WDIY might benefit more from that signal–even if it doesn’t really cover much of the core metro. And, even though Scranton’s WVIA doesn’t have any New Jersey-based coverage, it already has some repeaters nearby (e.g., Stroudsburg).

      • Profile photo of charles57


        WNTI might have been financially out of reach for WDIY, which needs a full-power class A plus 2 translators just to cover the Lehigh Valley.

        WVIA was never an option, mostly due to format, partly due to finances. [The Scranton NPR/PBS station was burned badly by giving a golden parachute to a former station president.]

  3. Profile photo of Eric Jon Magnuson


    While I did notice the reference to “music” in the College’s brief initial statement, I still thought that a News/Talk-focused operator would be a more-logical buyer. However, now that this new, longer statement also specifically includes that word, it looks like it’ll end up being a music format. I don’t think that WDIY would (or even could) launch a complementary format, so maybe it’s, say, WXPN or WFUV deciding to expand.

  4. Profile photo of limegrass69


    This is a good thing for NW Jersey.

  5. Profile photo of Mark


    And just in case notlob’s Celtic music buddy comes on here with the “NPR Borg” post he put on Scott’s story about WNTI, the station ALWAYS WAS an NPR member and carried NPR programming, including the XPN-produced “World Cafe.” (And XPN had to become an NPR member for NPR to pick up the show from PRI.) Under the standards of notlob and his buddy, NTI had already been swallowed by “the NPR Borg” years ago.

    And for a bunch of guys who hate pop culture, why the references to the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” villains? Since when was “Star Trek” high culture?

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