WNYC acquires Times Co.’s classical WQXR

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A three-party radio deal announced today in New York will bring WQXR, a classical music station operated by the New York Times Company, under the ownership of WNYC. The agreement involves a frequency swap with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, which will take over the 96.3 FM frequency where WQXR now broadcasts classical music. Pending FCC approval, WQXR will move to a weaker signal on 105.9 FM and program classical music as a service of WNYC. The Times Company will receive $45 million from the sale, $11.5 million of which will be paid by WNYC for the WQXR license, transmission equipment, call letters and website. With the announcement, WNYC launched a $15 million Campaign to Preserve Classical Music Radio in New York City to finance the purchase and ongoing operations of its new station. The New York Times reports: “Talk of the sale also sent shivers through cultural institutions that rely heavily on WQXR, like the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera and the Juilliard School. . . .[N]ew ownership and a transition to public radio raises its own concerns for those cultural institutions, creating a competitor for the dwindling pool of charitable dollars for the arts, and threatening the cozy relationship they have had with a station that gives them ample exposure and greatly broadens their reach.” Meanwhile, classical pianist Emanuel Ax, who chairs WNYC’s new capital campaign, had this to say: “Seven years ago, I was one of the voices calling for WNYC to preserve as much classical music as possible on its air. Today, I am happy to stand with WNYC as it carries off the sonic equivalent of saving Carnegie Hall from the wrecker’s ball by preserving WQXR as our sole all-classical music station. I know that all of my colleagues will rejoice in this wonderful and meaningful use of the airwaves, and I urge all of New York to embrace and support WNYC’s leap of faith.”