Posted In: Rhode Island
The press conference may have started at about 1:00, and may have just wrapped up. The sale price is apparently $5.63 million–which is being earmarked for an endowment. And, EMF takes over on the 1st, at midnight.
(This may be the first time that I’ve encountered a station sale officially being announced at a press conference that was being live-tweeted by reporters.)Joseph_Gallant OnAugust 29, 2017 at 2:38 pm #176344
Eric Jon Magnuson commented:
(This may be the first time that I’ve encountered a station sale officially being announced at a press conference that was being live-tweeted by reporters.)
It’s big news in Providence.
And the sale has become controversial since WBRU-95.5’s programming until now has been almost 100% locally produced.
As of 12:01 A.M. EDT Friday (September 1st), the new WLVO will have zero locally-produced programming (apart from the possibility of pre-taped station identifications played from the transmitter site that are triggered by the satellite feed).
I suspect the sale would have been far else controversial even if the station were sold to someone planning to flip to Contemporary Christian if that format had been locally-programmed.
Good reason. It’s big news in Providence.
It’s actually fairly big news elsewhere, too: Variety had a basic story yesterday (at http://variety.com/2017/music/news/wbru-providence-to-be-sold-to-christian-radio-organization-1202540862) that was based on Friday’s story here.
Still, I didn’t expect that there would be an official press conference involving several station staffers–which is something that I actually liked. (Playing “Spot the Mic Flag”–and confirming by some of the tweets–it looks like WLNE, WJAR, WPRI/WNAC, WPRO, and RIPR all attended. And, speaking of WPRI/WNAC, here’s their story from today: http://wpri.com/2017/08/29/wbru-fm-to-go-off-air-sept-1-change-to-christian-rock.)Joseph_Gallant OnAugust 29, 2017 at 3:13 pm #176347
For many college students who will be arriving or returning to the Providence area this coming weekend (September 1st through 4th) in advance of the start of Fall semester classes, it’s going to be quite a shock to find out that K-Love is on 95.5 instead of WBRU.
And for a city it’s size, Providence has a substantial college-student community. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more college students in Providence on a per-capita basis than anywhere else in the country (there are cities with larger college student populations that Providence, but they also have much-larger overall populations).
In fact, I suspect WBRU had a lot of college-aged listeners.
Here’s how WLNE covered the announcement on this evening’s news…
And, the closest thing to an official release/statement that I’ve come across is this Radio Online item…
(Updated because I should’ve checked the MSG site first; the raw release is at http://mediaservicesgroup.com/press.cfm?id=2651.)
ProJo’s new story on today’s announcement (with an overly punny headline) is at http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20170829/rock-will-lose-its-role-as-wbru-switches-to-christian-format. While other reports have referenced the new, online/digital-only “WBRU”, this story is much more detailed about that aspect. (That said, the previously linked press release gets a lot further into those plans.) And, the final reaction quote is from former PD Seth Resler–who now works for Jacobs Media…
Seth Resler worked at WBRU as a Brown student in 1995-1999, then returned to the station as program director from 2003-2006. He said the decision to sell was “a horrible mistake. A permanent mistake.”
“I’m a big proponent of podcasts. It makes a lot of sense for [WBRU] to try these digital avenues. But they would be much better off if they did that in coordination with an existing radio station.”
Meanwhile, here’s how WJAR ran the story this evening…
And, here’s a brand-new WLNE story (separate from the above) regarding listener reaction…
Brown University itself (i.e., not BBS) apparently issued a statement today…
— Steve Klamkin (@NewsProvidence) August 30, 2017
Also, there’s now at least some real discussion about whether some of WBRU’s programming may be put on an LPFM. Such a move may be alluded to in this new BDH story on the sale (at http://www.browndailyherald.com/2017/08/30/wbru-sells-fm-signal-christian-rock-radio-company), but is the main focus of the latest story from WPRI (at http://wpri.com/2017/08/30/wbru-programming-could-return-to-airwaves-on-low-power-fm).
ICYMI, WPRI last night reported that Brown’s president made an offer of financial support to the station back in April; see http://wpri.com/2017/08/30/emails-brown-prez-offered-loan-to-wbru-in-bid-to-avoid-fm-signal-sale. GoLocal now has posted a semi-related interview with a former WBRU board member who also appears in that WPRI story, at http://www.golocalprov.com/business/browns-hamilton-says-wbru-sale-was-coerced-and-asking-ag-kilmartin-to-block.
Meanwhile, the WBRU site yesterday posted a version of that press release, plus a related “Future WBRU: What To Expect” page (at http://www.wbru.com/what-to-expect). There’s also now a countdown clock on the homepage regarding the launch of the new streams. I’m cautiously optimistic that they’re really serious about making this new, online/digital-only version work.
Finally, here’s a grab-bag of various reaction/opinion/remembrance items that I’ve come across today–to provide a taste of how important many locals considered the station to be…
(Updated to note that ProJo’s Andy Smith visited the studios today, as part of his new story on the flip–at http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20170831/listeners-tune-in-as-wbru-tunes-out.)Joseph_Gallant OnSeptember 1, 2017 at 2:13 pm #176398
Twice during the last fifteen minutes of WBRU-95.5’s existence (I was listening over-the-air; it’s signal was good in my hometown of Norwood, Massachusetts), at about 11:47 and 11:56 P.M. EDT, I heard someone using the “F-Word”.
I think the same announcer used the word both times, and the first time, another announcer said WBRU was “an alternative to the FCC” or some such thing.
Is there some sort of “safe harbor” rule from the FCC for late-night radio as regards that kind of language?? Or has it been repealed??
If there is, the F-words might go unpunished, since I believe the “safe harbor” rules apply/applied to the hours between 10 P.M. and 5 A.M. local time.
It’s interesting to note from the blog post with a 1987 WBRU album survey that back then they weren’t all that “alternative”–George Harrison is at number 1 on the chart and in the top 10 only REM, Squeeze, the Bangles and the Hooters would be considered “alternative” back then (in the acts in the top 10, the Bangles had probably lost their alternative cred by this point thanks to a bunch of hit singles, the Hooters had their one it, Sting had lost as a solo act whatever alternative cred he had with the Police and as for George, Paul, Springsteen, Robbie Robertson and Mellencamp–well…) In the rest of the 30 we see Pink Floyd, Yes, Jethro Tull, Fleetwood Mac, Joe Cocker and Bob Dylan (and in the minds of some back then, you could include INXS and U2). Sounds like back then it was an AOR without the metal, something like WXRT in Chicago. If they’d kept it up, they’d probably be considered AAA.
Twice during the last fifteen minutes of WBRU-95.5’s existence (I was listening over-the-air; it’s signal was good in my hometown of Norwood, Massachusetts), at about 11:47 and 11:56 P.M. EDT, I heard someone using the “F-Word”. I think the same announcer used the word both times, and the first time, another announcer said WBRU was “an alternative to the FCC” or some such thing. Is there some sort of “safe harbor” rule from the FCC for late-night radio as regards that kind of language?? Or has it been repealed?? If there is, the F-words might go unpunished, since I believe the “safe harbor” rules apply/applied to the hours between 10 P.M. and 5 A.M. local time.
I think I heard one of them myself (via the stream)–and plenty of other folks remarked on it. I’m not certain whether a “safe harbor” would still apply here; if it would, though, the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. would probably still be correct. We’ll see if anyone ends up making a formal complaint.
Beyond that, GoLocalProv posted a new analysis feature on Friday, at http://www.golocalprov.com/news/what-killed-wbru. And, Radio Survivor posted a roundup at about the same time, at http://www.radiosurvivor.com/2017/09/01/wbru-programming-leaves-fm-in-advance-of-5-63-million-license-sale-to-emf.
Does anyone know if there is audio of the actual switch in formats online? Please attach a link if possible.
As far as I can tell, the switch wasn’t completely clean, as it may have taken a couple of minutes for K-Love’s programming to start on 95.5. For the end of WBRU, though, start with http://wpri.com/2017/09/01/end-of-an-era-wbru-off-the-airwaves (especially the video in the first embedded tweet) and http://www.dropbox.com/s/pfkmen4j4is1ztx/WBRU%20Last%20hour%20and%20sign%20off.mp3 (a scoped aircheck of the final hour).
Beyond that, there are several other recordings (some longer than others) on YouTube: e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTWWdRXN9BM, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNSUqXPA4s0, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpXRtFklqQ0, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fbv-5DANG7g, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfD44CZW_28, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSr_6qzBqZI, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIplcBLkPHk (which is, by far, the longest).
As a guide, the planned final song was Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979” (staged as the “most iconic” in the music library). (The overall “most played” was apparently Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy”–which did get played earlier in the final hour.) However, there was enough time for one more song to be squeezed in after “1979”–the White Stripes’ short “Fell in Love with a Girl”. After that came the final staff signoffs, then the traditional Rex “It’s Friday, people!” roar, then a recorded TOH ID, then the final “WBRU, over and out”. Apparently, static did start right after that–although there might’ve been a little more on the stream. The first song on the online-only version (not captured here) was Green Day’s “Welcome to Paradise”.
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