Salt Lake City public radio station KCPW is sold

The minimum bid for the nonprofit station is $350,000.

(Trent Nelson | Salt Lake Tribune file photo) A sign at KCPW’s offices indicates donations are needed to keep the radio station on the air, in Salt Lake City, Saturday, June 28, 2014.

Salt Lake City public radio station KCPW will soon be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

What this means for the station’s format is unclear, although there is little chance that it will remain a nonprofit public broadcaster.

According to a release from media brokerage Patrick Communications, the minimum bid for KCPW-FM 88.3 is $350,000 and bids must be submitted by Oct. 4 next Wednesday. If more than one qualified bid is submitted, an auction will be scheduled for October 9th.

The station’s sale includes its broadcast license and other unspecified assets.

The station management could not be reached for comment.

KCPW’s owner, Wasatch Public Media, was formed by local public radio supporters in 2008 to purchase the station. It paid $2.4 million for the radio station, which was about to be sold to a religious broadcaster. It operated out of trailers on the Westminster College campus until moving to studios at the Salt Lake City Main Library.

“I feel lucky to have been part of the heyday when the station was built,” said Diane Maggipinto, a former on-air reporter/anchor there. “It was a truly wonderful opportunity to be part of a radio station focused on urban issues and urban newsmakers. … It was a great, great team. Kind of rough in those early days.”

KCPW has endured several financial crises over the years. In 2011, an anonymous lender came forward when then-Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker blocked the City Council’s plan to borrow the station because a default was looming.

In 2013, KCPW was forced to discontinue programming on National Public Radio.

“It was an uphill battle from the start – going up against the powerhouse of KUER,” Maggipinto said. (KUER-FM 90.1, owned and operated by the University of Utah, is the state’s primary public radio station and is operated by NPR Utah.) “And then we had to give up all NPR programming because they couldn’t afford it .

KCPW now carries programs from American Public Media, the BBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as well as several locally produced programs – including “Behind the Headlines,” in which Salt Lake Tribune staff discusses the top stories of each week.

In 2014, the station defaulted on program fees just one day after defaulting. After falling six months behind on its payments to APM, the station successfully raised $42,000 to pay off this debt and stay on the air.

In 2017, the nonprofit restructured a 2008 loan used to purchase the station, eliminating $1.7 million in long-term debt.

Justin Scaccy

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