College approves sale of Alabama radio station

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An Alabama college is moving forward with selling its public radio station.

The Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees passed a motion last week permitting Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden to sell WSGN, the college said in a press release Monday.

WSGN had been rebroadcasting content from WBHM in Birmingham since 1992. That agreement expires Sept. 30, and the station will go dark until a sale is complete.

Because the college ended its broadcasting program in 2004, “it is not necessary for us to maintain a physical location or continue to accept responsibility for requirements and regulations from the Federal Communications Commission,” said Martha Lavender, president of Gadsden State, in the release. “As long as the College holds the license, we are liable for FCC violations and are subject to fines.”

WBHM put in a bid for the station but lacks the resources to meet the college’s asking price, WBHM GM Chuck Holmes told Current. A broker hired by the college posted a sale price of $525,000, according to Holmes. A prospective buyer has offered $255,000, also more than WBHM can afford, he said.

In a message to WBHM listeners posted on the station’s website, Holmes said the college is negotiating with a nonprofit, faith-based broadcaster.

“If we could have made it work financially, we would have,” Holmes said in the letter. “Ultimately, acquiring WSGN was cost-prohibitive for WBHM given our lean operating budget. As much as we wanted to continue broadcasting on 91.5 FM, to bid and acquire WSGN at its market sales price would have put WBHM in a major financial deficit.”

Gadsden, which is northeast of Birmingham, is on the edge of WBHM’s signal in the city. Holmes told WBHM listeners that he will continue to look for ways to broadcast in the area, either through a partnership or by purchasing a cheaper signal.

Gadsden State has operated the station for more than 40 years.

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