In what is being hailed as a potential reprieve by supporters of Puget Sound public-radio station KPLU, Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Washington say they are open to considering a bid on KPLU from an outside group.
The news means the UW, which was set to buy the radio station’s license from PLU would back away from the purchase if a community-based group were able to make a successful bid, according to a story by KPLU on Thursday.
PLU holds the radio station’s license for KPLU, a news, jazz and blues station, and had signed a letter of intent to sell it to UW, which owns KUOW, another public-radio station.
The deal was originally scheduled to be finalized on Friday (Dec. 18), but UW said it would consider other options after hearing dissent from KPLU listeners, supporters and employees.
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Under the terms of the original deal, KPLU would have become an all-music station with new call letters and the station’s news operations would have been dropped. KUOW is an all-news and talk station.
Norm Arkans, UW’s associate vice president, told KPLU that the university would “stand down” to allow a community-based group to submit its own competing bid.
“We’ve heard from the community that they were not given an opportunity to try to step forward and purchase the station for a community-based group. And so now what we want to do is try to give them the opportunity to do that,” Arkans said in an interview with KPLU.
Donna Gibbs, PLU spokeswoman, told The News Tribune on Thursday, "Both parties, PLU and the UW, have agreed to enter into negotiations to create an addendum to the asset-purchase agreement that would allow competing offers from alternative groups for the sale of KPLU. Those negotiations have not been concluded."
Any deal between the two universities and the sale of KPLU would have to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission.
Because KPLU would be losing its news team under the proposed agreement with UW, news employees at the station were told they could apply for jobs at KUOW though there were “no guarantees” of positions, KPLU reported.
Staff writer C.R. Roberts contributed to this report.