The nonprofit organization Friends of 88.5 announced Tuesday that, “following listener outcry,” the station had successfully negotiated an $8 million agreement to purchase its way out of a deal between Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Washington.
One of the Puget Sound’s beloved public-radio stations, KPLU, has bought its independence.
The nonprofit organization Friends of 88.5 — a coalition of station supporters — announced Tuesday that, “following listener outcry,” the station had successfully negotiated an $8 million agreement to purchase its way out of a deal between Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Washington.
Last November, employees of KPLU found out that PLU — which owned the station until this week — had been secretly negotiating to sell it to UW and fold KPLU into the UW station KUOW.
When the news broke, KPLU and its supporters launched a campaign to buy the station out of the deal between the two universities and keep its autonomy. “We received 24,000 donations,” KPLU station manager Joey Cohn said. The deal, he said, stipulated that KPLU pay “$7 million in cash and $1 million in ‘in-kind’ support,” meaning spot ads promoting PLU.
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“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the people who supported us,” Cohn said. “And we’re going to work even harder to be important to those people. It’s so cliché, but, as they say, ‘the more you give, the more you get.’ ”
Cohn said the agreement with KPLU allows the station to stay at the Neeb Center, which KPLU supporters raised the money to build, rent-free, for three years.
In the meantime, Cohn said, KPLU will look at buffing up its offices in downtown Seattle and downtown Tacoma. And the new deal, he added, would mean that no journalists would be laid off.
“I’m really excited about our new independence and focus,” Cohn said. “And giving to a cause that’s bigger than you are, is important. We’ve got lots and lots of thank-yous to make.”