“We are pleased to reach this agreement with WXPN, which preserves a strong voice for great music in our region and opens new horizons for the WNTI community and for Centenary College,” said Dr. Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, President of Centenary College. “WXPN brings exceptional resources and expertise in public radio and a deep commitment to serving the needs of listeners and supporting local artists. Centenary will continue to operate its own Internet radio station at WNTI.org to enhance our curriculum and involve students and community volunteers in programming. Centenary students will also be afforded opportunities to intern at WXPN at the University of Pennsylvania. We intend to reinvest the proceeds from the license sale in building Centenary’s academic offerings, to support student recruitment and retention, and fuel Centenary’s role as an economic engine in Warren County, New Jersey.”
Roger LaMay, WXPN General Manager, said, “WXPN was approached with notification of the proposed sale of WNTI. Although we were not looking to purchase another radio station, we quickly realized that WXPN was the best option to preserve WNTI’s long tradition of musical discovery for listeners in Northern New Jersey and Northeastern Pennsylvania. We will extend WXPN’s demonstrated commitment to local artists, music and events in the communities we currently serve to the WNTI community, and will apply our deep experience in public music radio management to strengthen its overall operations. In the long term, we expect this transaction to benefit our artists and audiences, and strengthen WXPN’s financial sustainability.”
WXPN produces NPR’s most popular program of popular music, World Cafe, which was heard on WNTI twice daily and will remain part of its music programming.
The Public Service Operating Agreement will start at noon ET on Thursday, October 15, 2015. WXPN programming will begin at 91.9 FM at that time. FCC approval of the transaction is expected to take 60 to 120 days after the filing.
Sale price is $1,250,000 in cash and another $500,000 in underwriting value over 10 years. Public Media Company represented WXPN/University of Pennsylvania throughout the transaction. Centenary College was represented by Patrick Communications.
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About WXPN WXPN, the nationally recognized leader in Triple A radio and the premier guide for discovering new and significant artists in rock, blues, roots and folk, is the non-commercial, member-supported radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. WXPN produces World Cafe, public radio’s most popular program of popular music, hosted by David Dye and syndicated by NPR, and the Peabody Award-winning Kids Corner, hosted by Kathy O’Connell. WXPN also produces XPoNential Radio on XPN2 as its secondary radio channel in HD that is also available online. WXPN serves the greater Philadelphia area at 88.5 FM, the Lehigh Valley at 104.9 FM, Worton/Baltimore at 90.5 FM, Lancaster/York at 88.7 FM, Harrisburg at 99.7 FM and the world via online streaming at XPN.org
About Centenary College Centenary College, with its main campus in Hackettstown, NJ, integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix is designed to provide an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. For more information about Centenary College, visit www.centenarycollege.edu.
WNTI - WXPN TRANSACTION QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
- What is the nature of the WNTI transaction?
As part of an ongoing strategic evaluation of its operations and assets, Centenary College decided to sell its FM radio broadcasting license and broadcast tower to WXPN, a respected operator that shares WNTI’s commitment to music discovery. Centenary will retain its WNTI on-campus studio for use as a student-run internet radio station at WNTI.org. Students and community volunteers will be able to participate on WNTI.org.
- Why did Centenary decide to sell the WNTI license at this time?
WNTI was established over 50 years ago as a college radio station to serve the Centenary campus and to help its students gain first-hand experience in broadcasting. Over time, WNTI has evolved from a student-run station into a National Public Radio station serving a regional audience, with a dedicated team of community volunteers and many loyal listeners. Following a strategic review, it was decided that transferring WNTI’s ownership from Centenary to another NPR station operator would be the best way to serve the needs of its loyal listeners while focusing Centenary’s resources on its core academic mission.
- How long has this transaction been in the works? Where did the idea originate?
Centenary College has been actively exploring this transaction for several months. The idea originated in its ongoing strategic review of how to best focus Centenary’s operations to deliver on its core mission – providing a quality liberal arts education with a strong career focus.
- How much compensation will Centenary receive for the sale of the FM broadcasting license?
The sale price is $1,250,000 in cash and another $500,000 in underwriting value over 10 years.
- How is Centenary’s financial condition? Are there any financial issues that drove the decision to sell the station?
The decision to transfer the college’s FM broadcasting license to another NPR station operator was driven primarily by long-term strategic considerations, not by financial needs. Centenary’s operating budget is on track, and the college has strengthened its reserve fund and built its endowment to support the college’s future growth and development. Its goal is to focus Centenary’s resources and assets on its core academic mission, while ensuring WNTI listeners continue to enjoy great music—commercial- free, over the air and online - for many years to come.
- What will happen to WNTI’s current over-the-air programming? Will listeners be able to hear the same programs when WXPN takes over?
WNTI will continue to broadcast from the Centenary College studio until WXPN takes on programming responsibilities October 15, 2015 at 12 PM ET. Centenary will continue to operate its online radio station at WNTI.org.
- What is the timeline for completing the sale and transfer of the FM license to the new operator?
Under the Public Service Operating Agreement, WXPN begins broadcasting at 91.9 FM on Thursday, October 15, 2015 at 12 PM ET. FCC approval of the transaction is expected to take 60 to 120 days after filing.
- Why didn’t Centenary involve WNTI community volunteers and listeners in this process?
Centenary carefully considered the needs of a number of stakeholders, including students, alumni and the WNTI community. It was necessary to keep this process closely held to senior staff and board of trustees to ensure effective discussions of transaction terms with WXPN.
- How did Centenary find WXPN? What was the process?
Centenary retained an expert advisor with deep experience in the broadcasting industry to help it find the right acquirer for WNTI. It focused on finding a non-commercial operator who shares its values and offers programming that will appeal to local listeners.
- WNTI sponsors local music festivals and helps promote local artists. Will this continue?
WXPN has a strong track record supporting and promoting the work of local artists, which was one factor that attracted Centenary College.
- Why did WNTI shift to recorded programming on October 5? Why are WNTI programs and volunteers no longer heard live on the air?
Centenary College needed to suspend live programs on WNTI so it could begin planning for the transition of station operations to WXPN.
- Is the WNTI Fall pledge drive still taking place?
Given the circumstances, the WNTI Fall pledge drive has been postponed.
- Will the radio station call letters remain the same? Will the name of Centenary’s internet radio station change?
Once Centenary transfers the FM broadcasting license, it will lose the right to the call letters WNTI. Centenary plans to offer student and volunteer run programming at wnti.org. WXPN intends to change the call letters of the broadcast signal.
- How will this transfer affect current WNTI members and underwriters?
WXPN looks forward to welcoming all WNTI listeners, members, and sponsors. Current WNTI members will be welcomed as members of WXPN and will be contacted soon with information and details.
- Will the coverage area served by WNTI be affected when WXPN becomes its new owner-operator?
No, the coverage area will remain the same. All listeners who received WNTI will be able to receive WXPN at 91.9 FM.
- Why did WXPN decide to purchase another radio station?
Although WXPN was not searching for a new radio property/station to purchase, it was approached with this offer because Centenary College wanted to provide WNTI listeners with a new owner that shared its commitment to great music and has the resources to serve the needs of local listeners for many years to come. WXPN feels strongly that it is the best possible station to serve these needs: it has a demonstrated commitment to local artists, music, and events and is geographically contiguous to WNTI’s service area. Moreover, WXPN was eager to ensure that this important outlet for audiences and artists remained a source of musical discovery.
- How will WXPN, a non-profit, non-commercial public radio station, afford the purchase of WNTI?
WXPN is using funds from its own reserves and a loan from its license owner, the University of Pennsylvania, to purchase WNTI at a fair, affordable price.
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