KCPW in Salt Lake City has reached an agreement to restructure $1.7 million in long-term debt assumed during a 2008 effort to keep the station on the air.
The station, a community licensee that airs news, announced Tuesday that the debt and accrued interest held by National Cooperative Bank was bought out through a new five-year, $420,000 loan, made by the foundation FJC.
In 2008, the station took on the loan as part of a $2.8 million financing package to help Wasatch Public Media buy KCPW after Community Wireless of Park City, its owner at the time, put the station up for sale.
“[W]e would not be here today if those loans had not been made,” Colucci said. But the debt “became unsustainable for all parties involved and finding a resolution has been a priority. We are thrilled by what this means for the station’s future.”
The debt has long hampered the station, which nearly defaulted in 2011 and had to drop NPR programming in 2013 to save money. The long-term debt has been the “biggest threat to the station,” said KCPW GM Lauren Colucci said in a press release, and KCPW could have gone bankrupt if it were unable to restructure the debt.
“We had a ‘Hail Mary’ plan in place to mount a public campaign, but given the current lack of the organization’s resources, we weren’t optimistic it could be pulled off successfully,” Colucci said in the release. “We were determined to try though, if need be, because KCPW is worth every effort.”
“We came very close to not making it to today,” she said.
With the threat of the debt behind it, the station plans to grow staff, upgrade outdated equipment, revive a reporting project focused on environmental issues in Utah, and build “a board of directors that can help take the nonprofit media outlet to new heights.”