University may spin off Memphis’ WUMR to new nonprofit

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The university licensee of WUMR-FM in Memphis, Tenn., is considering a plan to transfer the station’s license to a new nonprofit organization to be formed in collaboration with two local partners.

The University of Memphis station now features jazz and public affairs hosted by students and community volunteers. The planned collaboration would make the station more of a resource for students and the Memphis community by increasing local news coverage and expanding music and cultural programming, according to Anne Hogan, dean of the university’s College of Communication and Fine Arts.

Partners in the proposed collaboration would be the Daily Memphian, a local online news outlet that has worked with the university since last year, and Crosstown Concourse, a mixed-use development in northern Memphis. The station would move to Crosstown Concourse, though its signal would still originate from its tower on campus.

“The visibility of Crosstown Concourse will be tremendous for our radio station and will provide an even more professional work experience for our students,” said university President M. David Rudd in a press release Monday

Hogan said she is “really thrilled” about “expanding opportunities for students” to produce content for the new programs. Students already have opportunities to intern with The Daily Memphian, but the new collaboration would aim to give them experience producing radio stories in a professional newsroom environment. 

The collaboration would also enable WUMR to broadcast concerts from theaters managed by Crosstown Redevelopment Cooperative, the nonprofit co-owner and operator of Crosstown Concourse. The collaboration would unite the organizations “to create a true Memphis musical and cultural experience,” said Todd Richardson, president of Crosstown Redevelopment Cooperative.

“At the heart of it will be local DJs bringing their unique and diverse voices to a worldwide audience. Crosstown will serve as the hub, while the University of Memphis will extend the organization’s resources to include students, professors and guests,” said Richardson. “The Daily Memphian will provide regular news, information and interviews to round out a true community resource for the Memphis area and beyond.”

Moving ahead with the plan would require approval from the FCC and the university’s board of trustees. Trustees will consider the proposal at a Dec. 4 meeting.

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