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KUER, PBS Utah to purchase SLC-based KCPW

PBS Utah's studios are located on the University of Utah's campus in Salt Lake City.
PBS Utah
PBS Utah's studios are located on the University of Utah's campus in Salt Lake City.

The University of Utah’s two public broadcasting stations announced this week they will purchase the Salt Lake City independent news station KCPW-FM 88.3.

First thing’s first: we’re talking about Salt Lake-based K-C-P-W getting purchased here, not our station here in Park City.

KUER-FM 90.1 and KUED-Channel 7, Utah’s biggest public radio and television stations, will purchase the news station, which broadcasts on 88.3 across the valley.

After KUER, KCPW was one of the first stations to carry NPR in the Salt Lake City market. It was created by KPCW in 1992, when the decision was made to invert the two middle call letters.

Going forward, KCPW will remain a source for news, with a few changes. It will become a Spanish-language-focused station and integrate music into the rotation.

KUER and PBS Utah Executive Director Maria O’Mara said it’s part of an effort to reach a more diverse and younger audience, particularly Utah’s Latino population.

“It feels, to me, as an entire public media system, we owe this more examination, more conversation, more critical dialogue and more trust-building with one of the fastest growing populations, certainly in the state of Utah,” she said.

Programming will initially come from Fresno-based Radio Bilingüe, which broadcasts in English and Spanish. Future music offerings aren’t yet confirmed.

O’Mara said KUER and PBS Utah hadn’t been planning to purchase KCPW, but when current owner Wasatch Public Media announced it was for sale earlier this month, they saw an opportunity.

WPM put it up for auction, with a $350,000 minimum bid, before calling off the auction ahead of KUER and PBS Utah’s purchase announcement.

A purchase price was not disclosed.

O’Mara said she is confident the deal will close by April 2024, pending Federal Communications Commission approval.

As part of the purchase, the University of Utah stations will also acquire construction permits that could allow KCPW to expand into Utah or Weber counties in the future.

KUER and PBS Utah are not purchasing KCPW’s studios at the Salt Lake City Public Library, so the station will have to move. O’Mara said it will most likely relocate to the U.

And about those call letters…O’Mara said it is possible to change them, but no news on that yet.

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