WBRU Begins Its Shift To Online-Only With EMF Deal Done

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Brown Broadcasting Service Inc., a corporation comprised of Brown University students who represent the station management and the board of directors that includes one Brown student, has followed through with a plan first announced in March that shifts the programming of Alternative WBRU-FM 95.5 in Providence, R.I. to audio streaming only.


In a transaction that was filed today with the FCC and will appear Aug. 30 in the CDBS Public Access Database, Brown Broadcasting is selling WBRU to Educational Media Foundation for an undisclosed price rumored to be $5.5 million.

On Sept. 1 at 12:01am, the longtime home of modern rock music will become the latest “KLOVE” Christian AC O&O noncomm.

The acquisition of WBRU gives KLOVE a 26kw Class B facility just west of central Providence, and a signal that covers all of Rhode Island and most of southeastern Massachusetts.

Robert Maccini of Media Services Group served as the exclusive broker in this transaction, representing Brown Broadcasting.

KLOVE has until now used an FM translator at 104.7 MHz in Warwick, R.I. — W284BA — to reach Rhode Island listeners. W284BA rebroadcasts WTKL-FM 91.1 in North Dartmouth, Mass., a Class A that does not reach Rhode Island.

WBRU on Monday morning confirmed via its Facebook page that it is “a big week in WBRU history … it’s our last week on air before we switch to broadcasting online and on our soon-to-be-launched mobile app!”

It directed Facebook followers to WBRU’s website, where the station maintains an “Updates” page. Here, WBRU said, “WBRU is not going away. While we are currently in the final stages of selling its FM broadcasting license, we have big plans. We are going to reinvest the revenue from the sale to continue creating music and news content for the southern New England community. This will be provided on various platforms—platforms that millions of people already use to access their music and news content in the car, on their phones and computers, and on home streaming devices.”

WBRU continued, “Our mission statement directs us to be a self-supporting educational workshop focused on creating and distributing music-centric entertainment and news content. It is with serious consideration for this mission that we take this next step. With technologies and media habits changing so rapidly, we want to channel our energy and resources into creating a content-based media workshop with an eye towards innovation. WBRU has a storied history as a leader in innovation. We were one of the country’s first college radio stations and one of the first college stations to acquire a commercial FM license—before it was a popular platform. We were also among the first stations to stream on the Internet. It is with the same entrepreneurial spirit that we’re moving forward.”

WBRU concluded, “We deeply appreciate the support of our audience and advertisers over the years and hope the new WBRU will reach even more people in Rhode Island and the surrounding areas.”

Brown Broadcasting Service is not owned by Brown University but provides through its mission learning opportunities for students. It notified Brown alumni via a letter sent March 2 that its nine-member board voted to find a buyer for the facility, which signed on as WJAR-FM in 1948.

WBRU’s Alternative format dates to the mid-1960s, when its folk music provided a generation of Newport Jazz Festival attendees a unique radio voice for the likes of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Its signal covers all of Rhode Island and much of Eastern Massachusetts.

Famous WBRU alumni include ESPN’s Chris Berman, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, and Fletcher Heald & Hildreth attorney Peter Tannenwald — a key player in WBRU’s sale.

This story was updated at 1pm on Aug. 29 to include broker information.


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