Three public radio stations owned by Salisbury University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore will work together under the brand Delmarva Public Media, the schools announced Wednesday.
Under a memorandum of understanding, the universities will maintain ownership of their stations but will pool resources and change formats of two of the stations.
Beginning July 1, Salisbury’s WSCL and WSDL will drop their NPR affiliation. WSCL will move from a mix of NPR and classical to a 24/7 classical format. WSDL will switch from its current format of NPR news and rock, folk and other genres to mostly jazz and BBC programming. It will also air some live-hosted shows from WESM, the station owned by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
WESM will continue to air NPR programming along with jazz and blues. Each station will now have “its own specific identity,” WESM GM Gerry Weston said.
The universities had been in discussion about a collaboration for about two years as a way to cut costs after Dana Whitehair resigned in August 2018 as GM of WSCL and WSDL, formerly branded as Delmarva Public Radio. Weston will lead the new Delmarva Public Media.
By joining together and switching formats, the stations will save “a considerable amount of money” by ending NPR membership for WSCL and WSDL, Weston said.
The new arrangement provides the two licensees with complementary resources, Weston said.
“I’m getting a development department, including underwriting sales people, a membership person and a development director,” Weston said. “And WSDL is getting live hosts to do some locally produced programming.”
The partnership is also beneficial because underwriting spots can be sold to air on all three stations, he said.
“The challenge, of course, in this COVID-19 world we live in now is that underwriting has been cut back,” Weston said. “So hopefully by adding WESM to Salisbury’s plate, it’ll strengthen our sales.”
No staffing changes will be made as a result of the partnership, Weston said.