Universities agree to consider community bid for KPLU’s license

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Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Washington have agreed to amend their pending agreement to transfer ownership of KPLU-FM in Tacoma, Wash., to Seattle’s KUOW-FM so a community group can submit a competing bid.

Under a letter of intent signed last month, the two universities proposed to merge Pacific Lutheran’s KPLU into the University of Washington’s KUOW-FM in an $8 million license transfer. The sale agreement also called for KPLU to streamline its news/jazz format to all-music and adopt new  call letters.

But, after an outcry from KPLU supporters and members of its advisory board, the universities have agreed to alter their agreement, according to a news story reported by KPLU’s Gabriel Spitzer. University officials said they are negotiating an addendum that will open the door for a community group to offer a competing bid for KPLU’s license. (KPLU hired an independent editor to oversee coverage of the sale.)

“We’ve heard from the community that they were not given an opportunity to try to step forward and purchase the station for a community-based group,” University of Washington Assistant Vice President Norm Arkans said in an interview with KPLU. “And so now what we want to do is try to give them the opportunity to do that.”

Members of KPLU’s advisory board called the proposed license transfer “fundamentally misguided” in a Nov. 30 letter to PLU’s leadership and asked the universities to reconsider the sale. Pacific Lutheran students and station supporters have also mounted public protests. And the Friends of KPLU, a “nascent group . . . , blazing a path toward a newly independent KPLU,” launched a website to organize the station’s fans.

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