Pacific Lutheran University, licensee of KPLU in Tacoma, Wash., announced Thursday the pending sale of the station to the University of Washington, which operates Seattle’s KUOW.
The University of Washington will pay $8 million for the station. With the sale, KPLU’s format of news and music will switch to all-music, continuing its current focus on jazz. The station will get new call letters, yet to be determined.
KUOW will take KPLU all-music to address the “significant crossover” in NPR content between the stations, it said.
“Approximately 65 hours per week of news and information programming currently heard on 88.5 also airs on KUOW,” the station said in a post explaining the move. “Evolving the format of 88.5 to all-music programming gives listeners two distinct public radio stations – one for jazz and the other for National Public Radio and locally produced content.”
In a Facebook post, Pacific Lutheran University President Thomas Krise said the move would unite the stations “for the good of the community and the listening public.”
“The Seattle/Tacoma market is one of the few metropolitan areas that continue to have competing public radio stations, and KPLU is one of only a remaining few public radio stations nationwide that maintain a split format between news and music,” he said in the post. “Bringing the resources of these two stations together will enable listeners to have dedicated stations, which is a structure that is being adopted across the public broadcasting landscape nationwide.”
“With public broadcasters facing ever-leaner budgets, it also makes sense for the two stations to pursue a shared vision for developing and funding independently produced content about the issues that matter to our region,” he added.
KUOW said it will hire several staffers for the all-music station. Krise added that the school will not lay off KPLU staff for the time being and that “KUOW management has assured us that they will give careful consideration to all KPLU applicants.”
The deal is expected to close next year after receiving FCC approval.
Update: This article has been updated with details from Krise’s Facebook post.