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A congressionally chartered financial institution will lend Wasatch Public Media more than $2 million in cash to buy KCPW-FM and keep the public radio station from being sold to a rival bidder.
"We've issued a commitment letter to provide financing" for the purchase of the National Public Radio-affiliated station, Andrew Kho, managing director of Washington, D.C.-based NCB, said Tuesday.
The agreement came a day ahead of a deadline Wasatch Public Media had to meet if it was to prevent Salt Lake City-based KCPW from being sold to a rival, possibly a Christian broadcast network.
The nonprofit management group had until today to provide evidence to owner Community Wireless of Park City that it would have enough cash to buy KCPW for $2.4 million.
If Community Wireless accepts the letter, Wasatch Public Media will proceed to hammer out final details of the sale, which is expected to close in October, said Ed Sweeney, KCPW general manager and president of Wasatch Public Media.
"I'm very pleased. These are monumental steps for KCPW," he said.
Joe Wrona, a member of the Community Wireless board of trustees and its attorney, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
NCB, also known as National Consumer Cooperative Bank, will lend $2.2 million. Wasatch Public Media will chip in $200,000 for a down payment raised during a financing campaign that started in March after the board of Community Wireless voted to accept a letter of intent from Wasatch Public Media to buy KCPW. The board gave the group until May 28 to come up with proof of financing.
Since then, Wasatch Public Media has amassed $975,000 from more than 800 donors and listeners through the fundraising campaign and a separate on-air pledge drive to pay the station's operating expenses.
Contributions included $395,000 from two anonymous donors, $100,000 from the Stephen G. and Susan E. Denkers Foundation, and $35,000 from Patrick Byrne, CEO of online retailer Overstock.com.
"On March 15, I had zero dollars for Wasatch Public Media and we had not done our spring drive. So from March 15 through today we've raised close to $1 million," Sweeney said. "When push came to shove, Salt Lake listeners stepped up."
The NCB financing is an interest-only loan. Sweeney said Wasatch Public Media will use $400,000 from the fundraising proceeds to pay down the loan. The group intends to repay the balance with proceeds from future fundraising campaigns during the loan's four-year duration.
In January, the board of Community Wireless decided to sell the AM and FM licenses of KCPW in order to focus on sister station KPCW in Park City.
Trustees have reached an agreement to sell KCPW-AM to IHR Educational Broadcasting, a religious group in Fair Oaks, Calif.
Community Wireless of Park City has to decide whether to accept Wasatch Public Media's proof of financing. If acceptable, the two sides would work out a final agreement allowing the sale of KCPW-FM to close in October.