A nonprofit that operates a news site for the state of Delaware has acquired an FM broadcast license and plans to launch a new station by early summer. Delaware First Media’s purchase of WDDE, a 2,500-watt signal on 91.1 FM, lays the groundwork for the first-ever public radio station to be based in and serve the state of Delaware.
Nothing comes easily to public radio, not even a good idea. About 30 years ago, Wisconsin Public Radio veteran Jack Mitchell came up with the concept of banding together small stations throughout Wisconsin into a centralized system, within which a mothership would handle overhead and distribution, thus freeing up resources for stronger local content. Today, Wisconsin Public Radio operates 33 stations that benefit from strength in numbers – some of which might not exist today were it not for a centralized system. Each station is tied to one of two statewide networks, one featuring the NPR newsmagazines and classical music and the other mostly state-oriented talk programming. WPR “has twice as much programming” as a single network, said Mitchell, who now teaches at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and the networks don’t air the same programs at the same time.
All three major bond-rating firms have now downgraded the Colorado Public Radio bonds that provided $4.7 million for the network’s 2001 expansion. The reason: CPR’s 2008 decision to take on the costs of an additional FM channel …
The bond market is offering new capital financing options for public broadcasting this week with the expected sale of $6.5 million in tax-exempt bonds for Colorado Public Radio’s expansion. [After this article was published, the entire lot of bonds sold in one day at 5.8 percent.]
Other pubcasters will follow. Nashville Public Radio plans to sell about $3 million in bonds in March to cover purchase of a second station in town. And the new nonprofit Maryland Public Radio aims to finance the $5 million purchase of Baltimore’s WJHU. Pubcasters have 10 to 15 borrowings under review at George K. Baum & Co., the investment bank working closely with Public Radio Capital, a nonprofit that is shepherding potential borrowers into the bond market.
Thanks to financing from the new Public Radio Capital (PRC) fund, Colorado Public Radio just realized a long-standing goal—buying Denver AM station KVOD, which it plans to program with wall-to-wall classical music.