A $1.7 Million Write-off and a New Chapter for Local Public Radio

KCPW has reached an agreement that significantly improves its long-term outlook. The deal restructures the 2008 loan used to purchase the station, and eliminates more than $1.7 million of long-term debt.

Lauren Colucci, KCPW’s General Manager, says that the arrangement means a new day for the local news and information outlet and its listeners.

“The debt burden that was taken on in 2008 saved KCPW; we would not be here today if those loans had not been made,” Colucci said. “But it also has been the biggest threat to the station since. It became unsustainable for all parties involved and finding a resolution has been a priority. We are thrilled by what this means for the station’s future.”

The loan was part of a $2,818,000 financing package which enabled Wasatch Public Media to purchase and preserve KCPW as a public radio outlet when the station was put up for sale in 2008 by its former owner, Community Wireless of Park City.

A new, five-year, $420,000 loan buys out the $1.8 million note and accrued interest held by National Cooperative Bank (NCB), the senior lender for KCPW’s 2008 purchase loan.

This outcome was made possible thanks to the loan made by FJC, a foundation of philanthropic funds, and because of the support of several generous local individuals and foundations: Jared Ruga and Jonathan Ruga, executive management team members of Sentry Financial; The Lawrence T. & Janet T. Dee Foundation; The Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation, and loan guarantees from two local individuals who wish to remain anonymous.

“Heroes all,” said Colucci. “They made this possible, and their generosity and commitment to keeping local public radio a part of our community is inspiring.”

As is the case with any success of this scale, Colucci says there are lots of thanks to go around – and she praised the dedication of KCPW’s contributing listeners and underwriters for keeping the station going while solutions to the larger issues could be found.

In addition, she credits Marc Hand, CEO and Co-Founder of Public Media Company, and the rest of his team for guidance that helped bring about this favorable result. Public Media Company works on sustainability for public broadcasters and has been involved with KCPW for nearly a decade.

“This would have been impossible without the participation of everyone involved and every contribution,” Colucci said. “We came very close to not making it to today.”

Had a resolution not been reached, likely next steps would have included bankruptcy and the sale of the station’s assets to the highest bidder.

“We had a ‘Hail Mary’ plan in place to mount a public campaign, but given the current lack of the organization’s resources, we weren’t optimistic it could be pulled off successfully,” said Colucci. “We were determined to try though, if need be, because KCPW is worth every effort.”

While all public media stations are indispensable to the communities they serve, not all are alike. KCPW is a community licensee, meaning it is not tied to any larger institution.

“There is something wonderfully unique about the KCPW model here in Salt Lake, and it would have been a huge loss if this resource slipped away,” said KCPW Board Chair Paul Bruno. “This station is about as independent as it gets.”

The new financial reality means that the station’s staff can begin to turn more of their attention from crisis management efforts to projects that will advance KCPW’s mission.

On that list: a long-planned initiative focusing on Utah environmental issues.

“The environmental project is one of our larger undertakings, and while we’ve had to put it on hold while we sorted out the debt restructure, we’re very excited to pick up where we left off,” Colucci said.

Beyond jumpstarting delayed projects, the station is focused on nurturing its own sustainability. Among other things, this means increasing its membership, growing its staff, replacing outdated computer and broadcast equipment, and building a board of directors that can help take the nonprofit media outlet to new heights.

“Three years of hard work and sacrifice on the part of KCPW’s staff have paid off,” said Bruno. “From the outside, this might look like a success out of the blue, but it is the result of pay cuts, extremely long hours, and years of almost unbelievable tenacity on the part of Lauren and her team. Now we can focus more attention on growing the station – and I’m confident that there are more passionate individuals out there willing to come on board and help see KCPW into an exciting new era.”

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On-air since 1992 as Utah’s first, member-supported, 24-hour news and information public radio station, KCPW 88.3 FM broadcasts from the Denkers Studio on Library Square in the heart of Salt Lake City. Operated by Wasatch Public Media, a Utah nonprofit corporation, KCPW’s signal covers the Salt Lake Valley and portions of adjacent counties. Live streaming, news, and station information can be found at kcpw.org.


Contact: Roger McDonough
rmcdonough@kcpw.org
801-359-5279, ext 203