Licensee sells Kentucky’s WNKU to religious broadcaster

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Northern Kentucky University will sell Triple A station WNKU to a religious broadcaster, the school’s board of regents decided Tuesday.

The board approved the sale for $1.9 million to the Charlotte, N.C.–based Bible Broadcasting Corp., according to university spokesperson Amanda Nageleisen. NKU also sold repeater WNKE to Educational Media Foundation, another religious broadcaster based in Rocklin, Calif., for $700,000 plus proceeds from the sale of another station owned by EMF.

The university will look for a buyer for a third station, WNKN, after repairs are made to its tower. The university will retain the WNKU call letters, studio, equipment and personnel.

NKU President Geoffrey Mearns said on the school’s website that the decision to sell “was not made lightly,” but because of “various financial challenges, I concluded that we could no longer justify using our resources — our students’ tuition and our state appropriation — to subsidize WNKU’s operations.” The school was contributing $1.1 million annually to the station’s operations, according to Nageleisen.

Mearns also quoted Board Chair Rich Boehne as saying during the regents’ meeting Tuesday that though the sale was “painful,” terrestrial radio has become less effective in helping the university connect with current and future students.

The university said last year that it was considering selling the station as it sought to trim overall spending by $8 million. According to a presentation made at the meeting of the Board of Regents, the station had accumulated a total net deficit of more than $2.6 million since 2011, losing money every year for the past six years.

Proceeds from the sale will help NKU pay off $5.1 million in debt incurred by a 2011 expansion of WNKU, Nageleisen said.

“In these financial times, the University must focus upon our core mission: the education of our students,” she added. “We will work closely with the affected employees to ensure a smooth transition.”

A campaign to save the station organized by the website CincyMusic.com sought to convince the board of regents not to sell the station and called for supporters to gather outside the meeting Tuesday.

The sales are pending FCC approval.