Public radio group to meet in Lewes Jan. 29

Concerns growing about future of Delmarva stations
January 29, 2013

Friends of Delmarva Public Radio say Salisbury State University Foundation is not interested in keeping radio stations WSCL-FM and WSDL-FM on air.

The foundation owns Federal Communications Commission licenses for both stations. In November, Friends of Delmarva Public Radio submitted a proposal to the foundation suggesting a plan to save the stations and continue existing programming.

The friends group said the foundation indicated it would respond by Thursday, Jan. 31.  Because there has been no response to date, the organization will meet at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 29, at Lewes Public Library to discuss its next step.

A radio station consultant’s report released last fall concluded Delmarva Public Radio couldn’t survive because it is losing money and would continue to do so.

Jason Curtin, Salisbury State University interim executive director, in a Jan. 28 interview, said there has been no decision or vote about the stations.

“I can’t definitively say when a decision will be made,” Curtin said.

John Mateyko, a Lewes Friends of Delmarva Public Radio founder, said the university is squandering $4 million donated by business sponsors and loyal listeners since it began broadcasting 25 years ago.

“They’re using other people’s money, and they’re saying they’re going to ditch it,” Mateyko said in an interview.

The friends group thinks the university foundation is delaying its decision and will allow the radio stations to die by neglect.

The consultant recommended a programming change for WSDL from local news and news-talk and information provided by NPR, to an adult-oriented music radio station.

Programming and format changes at WSCL, the consultant recommended, would use a 24-hour classical music programming service that originates elsewhere to replace locally hosted, classical music programming. The consultant also suggested station licenses could be sold.

Responding to the report, Friends of Delmarva Public Radio first organized in Salisbury and later in Lewes to encourage the university to chart a different course.

The friends want to maintain existing programming and make changes that would ensure continued station operation.

In mid-November, the organization submitted a proposal asking the foundation to support Delmarva Public Radio for the next three years, including relocation of offices and studios, purchase and installation of new equipment and donation of up to $300,000 a year for operating expenses.

The group also asked for a moderate reserve fund for unforeseen capital expenses and a renewable three-year operating agreement.

The proposal asked the foundation to form a working committee composed of foundation, university and representatives of station staff and the friends group.

The organization also asked that the committee be charged to review options and recommendations generated by the working group. The friends asked the foundation to quickly hire a station general manager to oversee the transition to new offices.

Curtin said the university is considering the group’s offer of community advocacy and support.

He said although Caruthers Hall, in which the radio stations are housed on campus, is scheduled for demolition in May, the university is working on a plan that would keep the stations on air and on campus.

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