VIA Public Media adds Bucknell U.’s FM station

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VIA Public Media in Pittston, Pa., has acquired the student-run station of Bucknell University and will maintain a studio on the school’s campus, where it will offer internships and train students.

VIA Public Media (formerly WVIA before a recent rebranding) agreed in an April 11 asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC to pay $17,600 for WVBU-FM in Lewisburg, Pa., and to cover legal fees.

Following FCC approval, VIA Public Media will simulcast its format of news, classical, jazz and weekend variety shows on the 255-watt signal. It will also insert local programming that could include news reports from Bucknell students, according to Neil Prisco, VIA Public Media’s creative director of marketing and branding.

The “VIA Studio at Bucknell University” will offer two internships each semester and “give students access to informal and formal professional development and experiential learning opportunities in areas such as newsgathering and broadcasting, digital editing, radio production, regulatory compliance and others,” a VIA Public Media release said.

Meanwhile, WVBU’s current programming will continue online. The station airs Democracy Now! and student-hosted music shows.

“We began exploring this collaboration after our students who are involved with Bucknell’s radio station voiced a strong preference for transitioning from a traditional, over-the-air broadcasting experience toward a contemporary and digitally-focused streaming platform,” said Brent Papson, Bucknell director, campus activities and student media, in the release.

Bucknell approached VIA Public Media about the deal, according to Prisco. The signal overlaps with the area covered by VIA Public Media’s 14 frequencies already operating.

Correction: WVIA’s press release provided the incorrect wattage for WVBU. It is 255 watts, not 255 kilowatts.

4 thoughts on “VIA Public Media adds Bucknell U.’s FM station

  1. A: What’s going to happen to WVIA’s existing FM translator that’s in the same area?

    B: $17,600? IIRC the covering of legal fees equals a roughly equivalent number, so about $35,000 total. That’s an incredibly low number. Low enough that the motivation seems a lot more “get rid of the license” than “try to get some money for something of value”.

    Not that I have anything in particular against WVIA. Certainly, given my own background, I’d prefer to see the license go to public radio broadcaster than pretty much anyone else. But at that low a price, there’s a few Bucknell alums I know personally who would’ve ponied up the cash out of their own pockets to make sure the station stayed a student station.

    Do we know anything about how “healthy” the student station’s budget was? How good/bad student involvement was?

    • Hi Aaron. My understanding based on my reporting is that WVIA is not going to change anything about its current use of the translator. I don’t know any details about WVBU’s budget or student involvement, though the schedule on the station’s website shows just 10 hourlong local shows over the whole week, leaving a lot of empty airtime (though I can’t say for sure that that schedule is up to date). My college station didn’t even have a broadcast signal and we still had more student shows than that.

    • That makes a lot more sense. I got the 255 kilowatts from WVIA’s release but thought it sounded off. The FCC’s website confirms it’s 255 watts. Correction made, thanks.

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