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The nonprofit community group that owns KCPW has put the ailing public radio station up for sale so it can focus on its sister station serving Summit County and Park City.
The operating license and assets of KCPW could be sold to a nonprofit corporation formed by Station Manager Ed Sweeney, who has 45 days to come up with a plan to buy the operating license and assets of the station.
"Community Wireless of Park City wants to focus on [sister station] KPCW with its market in Summit County and Park City. KCPW has matured after  years of existence [to a point] that it should be independently owned by a nonprofit in Salt Lake," Sweeney said Monday.
The National Public Radio affiliate broadcasts as KCPW-FM and AM. Housed at Library Square in Salt Lake, the station has an annual operating budget of about $1.4 million.
Despite a listenership of nearly 50,000, the station has struggled financially. Its parent, Community Wireless, reported a deficit of $413,250 in a 2006 financial statement to the Internal Revenue Service. Sweeney said the station also lost money in 2007.
"I was totally surprised. You don't usually see noncommercial stations even described in that language, that it's for sale," said John Greene, station manager of KUER-FM, the University of Utah public radio station.
"In prior articles that have been written, [KCPW] hadn't broken even in operating costs, so I can understand them saying it's time to go their separate ways," Greene said.
The Community Wireless board of trustees announced Sunday it had voted unanimously to spin off KCPW so it could focus on KPCW.
"KCPW has grown to the point that it needs to have a Salt Lake-based board of trustees whose primary responsibility is to ensure that the stations serve the needs of its Wasatch Front listeners. It's time for KCPW AM and FM to become more than just a subsidiary of Park City and take the next step in their development," board President Bill Mullen said in a statement.
Sweeney said KCPW will remain on the air while he negotiates sales terms with Community Wireless. He said a price hasn't been set, but he thinks the license and assets will sell for more than $2 million.
Sweeney does not have an exclusive right to negotiate a deal. The board of Community Wireless also will accept offers from other nonprofit organizations. Priority will go to groups that would continue to broadcast the station's news and information programs.
The board will accept offers until March 15. It didn't say what would happen if none of the offers is acceptable.
Proceeds will go to repay the cost of acquiring and operating the KCPW AM radio license which had been purchased in the early 1990s to reach more listeners. Community Wireless has been trying to sell the license for some time.
A part of KCPW's losses stems from the purchase of the AM license for $3.6 million. Critics also have pointed to the large salaries of station President Blair Feulner, who is paid more than most public radio station managers across the nation.