North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC officials announced today the acquisition of WFSS, a public radio station licensed to Fayetteville State University.
WFSS is a 100,000-watt FM station that broadcasts in the Sandhills region on the 91.9 frequency. It will begin airing WUNC’s news programming following approval of the deal by the Fayetteville State University Board of Trustees this morning. Previously, WFSS offered a news/jazz hybrid.
“This acquisition makes it possible for us to provide high-quality public radio in a cost-effective fashion for Fayetteville and the surrounding communities,” said Connie Walker, WUNC president and general manager, in a statement.
The acquisition was made by WUNC Public Radio, LLC, a limited liability company created earlier this week and owned by the Trustees of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
WUNC will pay $1.75 million in cash and other considerations to Fayetteville State University for the station license. The deal includes $1.35 million in cash, future underwriting announcements for FSU, and internships for two students at the school. WUNC will use independently funded revenues to complete the deal.
FSU officials said in a statement that several years of budget cuts and a need to focus on campus priorities led University officials to explore selling WFSS. Fundraising goals failed to make the station self-supporting.
“Collaborating with WUNC allows us to leverage our previous investment in WFSS to benefit the university and the community,” said James Anderson, Fayetteville State chancellor. “WUNC is one of the nation’s most successful public radio stations. Our listeners will have access to excellent news programs that include a major focus on North Carolina, including issues that affect military families and veterans.”
The Federal Communications Commission will need to approve the license transfer.
UNC-Chapel Hill trustees created WUNC Public Radio, LLC to enable the station to “nimbly conduct business and adapt in a rapidly changing media environment.”
The WUNC Public Radio, LLC Board held its first meeting earlier this week. Hannah Gage, the former Chairman of the UNC Board of Governors, was elected Chair. Michael Schoenfeld, Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations at Duke University, was elected Vice Chair.
“Working with our friends at Fayetteville State provides a great opportunity to preserve and enhance a strong public radio broadcasting service for listeners in the Sandhills region,” said Hannah Gage, a Wilmington resident and former radio executive.
Board members stated during the first meeting that it has no intention of interfering in WUNC’s editorial decisions.
“The fastest way to destroy something spectacular is to begin to mess with it,” said Gage.
Other members of the WUNC Public Radio, LLC Board include: Haywood Cochrane, UNC-Chapel Hill Trustee; Joel Curran, Vice Chancellor of Communications and Public Affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill; Chuck Duckett, UNC-Chapel Hill Trustee; Diana Eshelman, member of the Leadership Circle of WUNC; Susan King, Dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill; James Moeser, former chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill; and Connie Walker, President and General Manager at WUNC.