WXXI Public Broadcasting Adds For-Profit Weekly Newspaper

WXXI Public Broadcasting 1370 91.5 Rochester City NewspaperRochester NY’s WXXI Public Broadcasting is entering the for-profit realm with the acquisition of the weekly CITY Newspaper.

CITY, currently operated by Bill and Mary Anna Towler, will be sold to a for-profit subsidiary of WXXI which will continue to print the weekly newspaper and operate its digital platform. It joins WXXI Public Broadcasting’s holdings that include a local public television station, Public News/Talk 1370 WXXI, and Classical 91.5 WXXI-FM in Rochester as well as operating partnerships or ownership of five other non-commercial stations in Upstate New York.

WXXI Public Broadcasting and CITY Newspaper have announced that WXXI has signed a letter of intent to acquire the weekly publication and its digital platforms.

The announcement on Wednesday comes after Mary Anna and Bill Towler, founders and co-publishers of CITY Newspaper, approached WXXI with the desire to extend service of the newspaper beyond their eventual retirement.

“We believe the need for this newspaper has never been stronger, and it is our goal to ensure its publication continues for decades to come,” said Mary Anna Towler, co-publisher and co-founder of CITY. “We have been members of WXXI for many years and know that together, it will be greater than the sum of two organizations.”

Leaders of the two media organizations note that independent journalism continues to be important to the vibrancy of communities nationwide.

“We recognize the value of CITY Newspaper to Rochester, and are excited to have the opportunity to ensure its long-term success in our community,” said Norm Silverstein, WXXI president. “This helps WXXI to better serve our community through enhanced coverage of arts and culture, education, neighborhoods, and events. It’s an example of what a modern media organization should be.”

WXXI leaders say that their goal for this acquisition is to preserve and expand the quality and depth of local reporting and prioritize coverage of the arts, culture, and life in the greater Rochester area.

WXXI began in 1966 on television. In 1974, WXXI began broadcasting on FM radio and in 1984 launched its AM presence; in 1996, it went online and in 2011, it assumed operation of The Little Theatre.

Mary Anna and Bill Towler started CITY Newspaper in 1971. A group of concerned Rochesterians helped produce the paper; others bought stock to provide the money for its early years.

In considering the proposal from the Towlers, WXXI worked with the New York Council of Non-Profits, Inc., with support from the United Way of Greater Rochester’s Synergy Fund, to assess the acquisition.

WXXI will remain a not-for-profit public media organization, while CITY will continue to be a weekly newspaper and digital publication owned by a for-profit subsidiary of WXXI.

As a result of the acquisition:

CITY will remain committed to local, long-form news coverage. Both organizations will continue their brands of curated entertainment experiences, lifestyle reporting, and events calendars with a goal of driving arts discovery and appreciation.

Digital content will expand, reaching and engaging more people with creative original programming and social media.

All WXXI outlets will maintain their unique editorial voices while strengthening coverage of important issues in the region.

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