Salisbury University in Salisbury, MD is applying to the FCC to take over ownership of licenses for WSCL-FM and WSDL-FM. Two panels voted unanimously to transfer ownership of Delmarva Public Radio licenses from Salisbury University Foundation to Salisbury University.
Salisbury University’s radio advisory committee voted to recommend the foundation approve transferring licenses it holds for WSCL-FM and WSDL-FM to the university, and the foundation’s board voted to do so, reported CapeGazette.com
The next step will be obtaining the FCC’s approval of license transfers, said Jason Curtin, Salisbury University Foundation acting executive director. Curtin said foundation attorneys would file a formal request for transfer with the commission. The process is expected to take up to 90 days to complete, he said.
Changing license ownership is one of several conditions SU president Janet Dudley-Eshbach included in a November proposal aimed at making long-term operation of the stations possible. The proposal specifically requires Friends of Delmarva Public Radio to raise $250,000 annually to help keep the stations on-air.
Delmarva Public Radio was founded a quarter century ago by SU, 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.
Under the proposal outlined by 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.
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.
Curtin said financial stability of the stations is a major concern and the university is stepping up to do its part. The university proposes paying an estimated $400,000 to $555,000 to relocate buy new broadcast equipment and to relocate the stations. The university proposes paying up to an estimated $125,000 to erect a temporary tower for WSCL at a new location, while looking for a permanent tower site. The university, at an estimated cost of $75,000 to $125,000 each, would replace WSCL’s and WSDL’s transmitters. Delmarva Public Radio begins its next on-air fund drive Thursday, 4/11, running through Friday, 4/19.