Minnesota university considers selling radio station to local pubcaster

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A public television station in Duluth, Minn., has agreed to a letter of intent to buy public radio station KUMD in Duluth.

If approved by KUMD’s licensee, the University of Minnesota system, the station would be sold to the Duluth-Superior Area Educational Television Corp., which owns PBS station WDSE, for $175,000. The University of Minnesota Duluth also signed the letter of intent.

It is “increasingly difficult” for the university to provide necessary financial support for operations and maintenance of the station and its broadcasting equipment, Lendley Black, chancellor of the University of Minnesota Duluth, told the board of regents’ finance and operations committee Thursday.

Duluth-Superior Area Educational Television Corp. said it plans to spend $1.6 million to $3 million to integrate KUMD, which airs an eclectic mix of music and overnight student programming, into its programming and building, according to the letter of intent. The investments would include a new transmitter, studio and editing suites, among other costs.  

The letter of intent also includes offers of employment from the Duluth-Superior Area Educational Television Corp. to KUMD’s five staffers.

The TV broadcaster first approached the university about purchasing KUMD two-and-a-half years ago, Black said during the meeting.

The deal “preserves and aligns public radio in Duluth and Superior with a public media entity that can better resource KUMD and better serve our community,” Black said.

Selling the station looked to be “a sustainable way to keep a very treasured asset going forward that we alone probably cannot sustain,” said regent David McMillan.

The board of regents will consider finalizing the agreement at its next meeting in March.

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