Officials at Pacific Lutheran University can expect a letter soon concerning the proposed sale of the university’s public radio station KPLU to the University of Washington, which operates the public station KUOW.
Nearly 200 people gathered at a Seattle hotel Monday afternoon to attend a regularly scheduled meeting of the Pacific Public Media Community Advisory Council, established a few years ago to advise KPLU in the radio marketplace.
The members of the council unanimously decided — and the crowd applauded the decision — that the next step in protest of the sale should be a letter sent to the PLU Board of Regents and University President Thomas Krise.
The message: Don’t sell KPLU and don’t dilute the music, news and locally generated programming KPLU delivers to Puget Sound and global online listeners.
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The UW Board of Regents recently agreed to purchase, for $7 million in cash and $1 million in future consideration, the assets and frequencies now owned by PLU.
Given a chance to speak Monday, the two dozen people who rose to address the council were likewise unanimous in their comments opposing the transaction.
The council members echoed the crowd.
“We were just blindsided,” council member Jim Burbidge said. “What kind of organization can we build up? Do we need to get legal counsel?”
Said Council Chairman Stephen Tan: “I was very happy that this many people showed up. We voted on authorizing me to draft a letter to President Krise and to the PLU Board of Regents, asking them to reconsider. We’re just going to do what we can.”
Sixty people also joined the conversation online. Some of their comments were shared, and their views matched the room.
No representatives of PLU spoke at the meeting, and although the university view was not represented, the PLU Alumni Board recently sent a letter to constituents outlining to deal to divest KPLU.
“We believe that this was a strategic decision based on careful analysis of the future of radio and a concern about how best to sustain public media in the region for as long as possible,” the letter stated.
“It is a decision that acknowledges the significant difference between licensing and operating a radio station, and educating undergraduate and graduate students.”
To previous comments that asked if the university made the deal simply for financial considerations, the board stated, “The university is in good financial shape. The last fiscal year ended with a significant budgetary surplus. … The sale of KPLU does not benefit the university’s operating budget, but rather invests the resources in the endowment to support future student scholarships, faculty and staff compensation, and professional development.”
C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535