The crisis at KCPW, for now, is over.
Praising the public radio station as a vital community resource and balanced news organ, the Salt Lake City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency Board, unanimously approved a $250,000 loan on Oct. 11, that will allow the station to pay part of its debt and stay on the air.
"Our backs are against the wall," explained KCPW General Manager Ed Sweeney, who predicted the loan would be repaid by year's end, before the six-month term. "I don't want to be here I'm appreciative. But this is an extraordinary time."
Sweeney said the still-flagging economy has undercut recent pledge drives, forcing his request for the "bridge loan."
His parent company, Wasatch Public Media, bought the station in 2008. But Sweeney faces an Oct. 31 deadline to pay $250,000 for one of the purchase loans. The station is looking to refinance the second, more substantial loan, worth $1.8 million.
Despite its financial tightrope act, KCPW has strong supporters at City Hall.
"It's very appropriate that Salt Lake City perhaps fill that big-brother role," said Councilman J.T. Martin, joking he has been "interviewed and barbecued" on KCPW's airwaves. "It would be a travesty if you guys went away. I have full confidence that you can pay back our loan."
"In my mind," added Councilman Carlton Christensen, "there's no question KCPW adds a lot of value to the community." He said the NPR affiliate, which has recently boosted its capital news coverage, "helps to indirectly sell our city."
During its recently completed pledge drive, KCPW doubled its goal to $450,000 but fell short. Sweeney says he will launch another pledge drive to cover the loan.
But the station also offered a "trade" deal, which the council granted. Under the terms, the 5 percent loan interest will be waived in return for 20-second informational spots to promote city events on the radio.
"We're really a part of the city," Sweeney said, pointing to their location on Library Square and engaged listening audience, now up to 60,000 each week.
Councilman and RDA Chairman Luke Garrott questioned whether the loan could make the station and city too cozy, and compromise KCPW's editorial judgment. "We do not tell the news staff what to do," Sweeney assured. "As long as it's done at arm's length, I don't think that's an issue for us at all."
Moments after the loan approval, Garrott told Sweeney, "I can see the relief on your face."
New 'flying' art to descend on downtown
Like those funky, "flying" public-art sculptures between Squatters and the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center?
Well, new ones are on the way next summer, after the City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency Board, steered $65,000 toward a new round of so-called "flying" art. Some of the existing public sculptures will be repositioned to dress up vacant city lots.
The council also agreed to pursue funding for a "signature" public-art piece, perhaps for 100 South adjacent to City Creek Center. Arts Council Director Nancy Boskoff warned such significant displays can cost at least $1 million and that the process can take several years.
Derek P. Jensen
City extends bridge loan to Broadway Park Lofts
Salt Lake City has agreed to loan a downtown developer $3 million to complete his condo project by Pioneer Park. But officials insist it is "low risk" since the loan terms require developer Ken Millo to repay the money with proceeds from his Nov. 5 Broadway Park Lofts auction.
That auction, at 300 S. 360 West, will feature 35 one- and-two-bedroom units priced between $55,000 and $140,000. The original pricing, before Millo encountered financing troubles with his bank, was $150,000 to $350,000 depending on the unit.
The City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency Board, voted 5-0 to approve the loan. Terms call for Millo to have purchase contracts worth $4.5 million in writing at Broadway Park before the deal can close.
Derek P. Jensen