UMD agrees to sell longtime community radio station KUMD

University of Minnesota Duluth
University of Minnesota Duluth campus in Duluth, Minn.
Bob Kelleher | MPR News 2010

A Duluth-based public television station has agreed to purchase KUMD, the public radio station the University of Minnesota-Duluth has owned and operated for 63 years.

The Duluth-Superior Area Educational Television Corporation, which operates WDSE, has signed a letter of intent to purchase KUMD for $175,000.

The agreement was discussed publicly for the first time Thursday at the University of Minnesota Board of Regents Finance and Operations Committee meeting.

“Although I enjoy KUMD quite a bit and appreciate its many contributions to our community, it has become increasingly difficult for us to provide much-needed financial support for the ongoing operation and maintenance of KUMD,” UMD Chancellor Lendley Black told the regents.

Black told the Regents that WDSE first approached the university about purchasing KUMD two and a half years ago.

"WDSE/WRPT has been in a remarkable pattern of growth the last few years," WDSE board chair Elaine Hansen said in a statement. “As we look to the future, we are considering other opportunities for growth, but more importantly new ways to serve the communities of Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin."

The Board of Regents could vote to approve the purchase at its meeting next month. The Federal Communications Commission would also have to agree to transfer the license.

According to the letter of intent, WDSE would spend between $1.6 and $3 million to integrate KUMD into its facilities — also located on UMD’s campus -- and buy new equipment, including a new transmitter.

The agreement also calls for WDSE to retain KUMD’s five employees if the sale is completed.

While students volunteer at the station, which is located on UMD’s campus, KUMD is not solely student-run, like Radio K at the Twin Cities campus. Black said the partnership would provide internship and other opportunities in both TV and radio for UMD students.

"It preserves and aligns public radio in Duluth and Superior with a public media entity that can better resource KUMD and better serve our community,” he said.

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