D.C. NPR affiliate WAMU 88.5 announced it will sell WRAU(FM) of Ocean City, Md., to Delaware Public Media. Pending Federal Communications Commission approval, the deal will close in June, and programming changes are slated for the same month.
The press release positions the sale as “a strategic move on the part of both parties to benefit the WRAU listening audience.” Terms were not disclosed.
Additionally, WAMU said the current WRAU listening audience represents only 2% of WAMU’s weekly broadcast audience. WRAU is licensed to the Salisbury metro area — more than two hours from D.C., where the American University licensee’s programming originates — and its signal reaches Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset counties in Maryland and Sussex county in Delaware, according to a WAMU representative.
For those unfamiliar with the geography of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Salisbury is just a stone’s throw from the Delaware state line. According to Radio-Locator’s WRAU coverage map, the station’s local signal reaches close to Milton, Del., and its fringe signal extends well past Dover, representing more than half of the state’s geographic area.
NEW DELAWARE OWNER, LOCAL FOCUS
In the announcement, Delaware Public Media President Jane Vincent said the purchase is in line with her organization’s mission to serve Delaware’s three counties “with independent high-quality news and programming for and about Delaware.” (Current describes WRAU as a repeater station for WAMU.) She added that continued “access to great NPR programming” for Sussex Country, Del., residents and “keeping the signal within the NPR family” are “bonuses” from the deal.
Delaware Public Media was founded in 2010 as a “digital-only outlet” and added WDDE(FM) 91.1 two years later, making it the First State’s only NPR affiliate. The organization also assists Brandywine School District’s WMPH(FM) and Red Clay Consolidated School District’s WMHS(FM).
For WAMU’s part, it indicated financial support of WRAU was not in line with current goals. According to the announcement, WAMU will concentrate on the D.C. metropolitan area. WAMU General Manager JJ Yore described the decision as a win-win that enables both pubcasters to provide “local audiences with the best possible public service.” He emphasized that WAMU is “deeply committed to strengthening our coverage of the Washington region, not only on 88.5 but also through WAMU.org, DCist, our podcasts and social media.”