Salisbury U. may take over WSCL-FM to save it


Delmarva Public Radio was founded a quarter century ago by Salisbury University (Maryland), but there was a good chance the school was going to sell or shutter it. It plans to demolish Caruthers Hall, which has housed 33-kW WSCL-FM (89.5) since its inception. No provisions were made for a new home for the station. The Salisbury University Foundation, which owns the bandwidth occupied by WSCL and WSDL (an Ocean City, MD repeater on 90.7), was having difficulty justifying the existence of Delmarva Public Radio from a financial standpoint.

In response, a group of loyal listeners formed Friends of Delmarva Public Radio and is asking the university to provide funding up front to relocate the station before Caruthers is taken down, an amount totaling between $250,000 and $500,000, which it would work to repay over time.

Now (as of 2/14) under a proposal outlined by SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach, the school would take control of the financially strained public radio broadcaster from Salisbury University Foundation and move the studios to the east side of campus before Caruthers Hall gets torn down this summer to make way for a new university library, reports

Dudley-Eshbach recommended retaining WSCL’s locally produced classical programming. But SU would eventually seek a partnership with an existing news operator to help run WSDL, she said in a statement read to the SU foundation’s radio committee.

SU hopes to lower costs, particularly at WSDL. Delmarva Public Radio has come under scrutiny in recent years as it has lost tens of thousands in revenue a year and regional NPR stations have entered the Delmarva market. It remains the area’s only local producer of classical music shows, though.

Tom Hehman, head of Friends of Delmarva Public Radio, said he was “very pleased” to hear echoes of his group’s save-the-stations proposal in Dudley-Eshbach’s plan. He and his membership will formulate a formal response soon.

Dudley-Eshbach called on the Friends group, which formed last year in response to news of DPR’s uncertain future, to lead the pubcaster’s fundraising efforts. It should raise $250,000 a year to help keep the stations afloat, she said.

See the story here.

RBR-TVBR observation: WSCL is a flamethrower and can be received in the DC suburbs fairly often. The story noted what we already knew: in the Salisbury-Ocean City market, there are plenty of places to tune in NPR affiliates—there’s a bit of a glut of them there, in fact.  There is also full-power WESM-FM—University of Maryland Eastern Shore) and both WAMU-FM DC and WYPR-FM Baltimore have translators in the market—88.3 and 106.9, respectively. In this economy and with that many non-coms, maybe there aren’t enough donors to go around.