A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Northerner Editor Sexton reports NKU’s board has sold WNKU to Bible Broadcasting Corp. for $1.9m

Northern Kentucky University’s student newspaper is reporting that the Board of Regents voted to enter into negotiations with Bible Broadcasting Corporation to see WNKU.

The vote took place at a special called meeting of the board Tuesday morning.

The Northerner’s editor Matt Sexton reported that President Geoffrey Mearns was authorized to execute agreements to sell the state for $1.9 million. NKU maintains the WNKU call letters.

The station will stay on the air until the sale is complete, which could take months.

Sexton reports that the Board of Regents met in executive session for two hours. Before the board voted, members of the audience, which included both employees and friends of WNKU, had the opportunity to address the board.

Northerner photo by Alec Reynolds

This included Aaron Sharpe, the acting general manager of WNKU, expressed concern at “not having a seat at the table” to discuss options.
likely change in format and the potential loss of a locally-owned public radio outlet also concerned Sharpe.

Sexton quote Sharpe: “When public radio stations get sold to religious broadcasters, you’re getting into dangerous territory. Again, I’m not suggesting that you don’t sell it. I’m suggesting that we work together to find a way to find the right buyer.”

He reports:

Rich Boehne, chair of the Board of Regents, said the process was broad and open. Boehne said the university could no longer subsidize the station at the expense of its students.

“We believe these are the best offers and opportunities we’ve received,” Boehne said. “Our goal being we cannot finance on the backs of our students and our core mission. . .”

After the board approved the sale, Boehne made a statement where he confirmed, “It’s painful to let go of something that has reflected so well on our deep commitment to this region,” Boehne said. “Hearing those call letters for me personally, the voices and of course the music has helped weave the NKU brand into our core geographic market. However, the media world is shifting dramatically and these terrestrial voices no longer provide access to our most important constituents.”

(University spokesperson Amanda) Nageleisen said Tuesday the university spent $1.1 million in fiscal year 2016 subsidizing the station, and it was anticipated the university would spend another $1 million in fiscal year 2017.

NKU President Geoffrey Mearns announced April 5, 2016, that the university should explore the possibility of selling WNKU-FM and its assets. To begin that process, Mearns issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a broker to explore a potential sale.
At that time, Nageleisen said the NKU had spent an average of $600,000 over the previous five years subsidizing WNKU. In fiscal year 2015, that subsidy was $900,000.

See Sexton’s story here.

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