Rhode Island’s NPR Member Sells In Providence

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As the calendar year began, “Arnie the Corsair” — and the decision makers at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth made a decision that would reverberate across campus and into much of the New Bedford-Fall River, Mass., listening area: Class B1 WUMD-FM 89.3 was being sold by UMass Dartmouth to Rhode Island Public Radio.


The $1.5 million deal, which includes a decade’s worth of underwriting announcements, was protested by WUMD volunteers who launched a campaign designed to save the station.

Those efforts were unsuccessful, and on June 26 RIPR said R.I.P. to WUMD.

Now, RIPR is saying adios to its Class B AM operated since Oct. 2011 as a Spanish-language noncomm, and immediately before that as a main NPR outlet for Rhode Island’s biggest city.

In a transaction with a total value of $400,000, RIPR is selling WRNI-AM 1290 in Providence, R.I., to Latino Public Radio.

A 10% escrow deposit has been made to John Wells King, Esq., serving as RIPR’s escrow agent.

WRNI-AM boasts a directional two-pattern 10kw signal from 3 towers, giving it city-grade coverage of eastern Rhode Island, and nearby Fall River, Mass.

The sale of WRNI-FM to LPR, ironically, is the result of a fundraising effort in which the operation turned to listeners to help it raise nearly $500,000 to make the acquisition happen. If LPR couldn’t come up with the asking price, RIPR was ready to shop the station to other suitors.

LPR supporters came through, whereas a #saveWUMD social media effort fell short for UMass Dartmouth; a percentage of funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Rhode Island Public Radio acquired WRNI in March 2007 following a three-year firestorm ignited by a September 2004 announcement that it would be put on the market by then-owner WBUR Group, tied to the Boston University-administered licensee, the WRNI Foundation. The Foundation took over the station in 1998, ending five years of Portuguese-language programming.

From 1952-1983, the facility was known as WICE, and aired a Top 40 format during the 1960s and 1970s; WICE was once part of Susquehanna Radio.


FROM THE RBR+TVBR ARCHIVES:

Is Public Broadcasting Truly Imperiled?

It became known early Thursday that the Trump Administration’s proposed Federal budget calls for the wholesale elimination of funding for public media. In this RBR + TVBR INFOCUS report, the tale of three very different public radio operations shows how any loss in dollars from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting could be devastating, or potentially lead to less noncomm diversity.