Salt Lake City’s KCPW cites program costs, duplication in canceling NPR programs

Salt Lake City pubcaster Wasatch Public Media, licensee of KCPW-FM, will drop all NPR programs June 24, a schedule change intended to save money and differentiate its service from other pubcasters in the market. “A lot of the decision just came down to sheer economics – NPR is just getting more and more expensive,” said Wasatch C.E.O. Ed Sweeney. “And, when you already have NPR in the market with other stations, it just gets harder and harder to set yourself apart when pitching to sponsors and underwriters.” The University of Utah’s KUER-FM is KCPW’s primary competitor for NPR news listeners. “We were just looking more and more alike, and you can’t stay in business doing that,” Sweeney said.

Anonymous lender saves Salt Lake station from default

An unexpected intervention from an anonymous lender has saved Salt Lake City’s KCPW-FM from defaulting on a loan, ensuring that it will continue operating for the foreseeable future. Leaders of the news station learned Oct. 25 [2011] that they could borrow up to $250,000 from the anonymous lender, enough to enable them to repay a loan from National Cooperative Bank due Oct. 31. The anonymous lender will give KCPW six months to repay, says Ed Sweeney, KCPW’s g.m.

The breakthrough came after a roller-coaster month for KCPW.

Salt Lake news station back in jeopardy

KCPW in Salt Lake City is less than two weeks from a loan default that could put it off the air. The new nonprofit licensee celebrated its purchase of KCPW frequency to maintain the news/talk station in 2008, but it’s now struggling to make payments on loans that financed the $2.4 million purchase. Wasatch Public Media has until Oct. 31 [2011] to pay off a $250,000 loan from National Cooperative Bank, and if it fails, the bank will call in a separate $1.8 million loan. A rescue package put together last week by Salt Lake’s Redevelopment Agency fell through over the weekend.