The FCC just approved the proposed assignment of two Cox-owned AM radio stations in Connecticut to Sacred Heart University for use as non-commercial radio stations. Stations WSTC (Stamford, CT) and WNLK (Norwalk, CT) will convert from commercial to non-commercial status and will be used by public radio group WSHU for its broadcasts of public radio programming (mostly syndicated shows from NPR and BBC).
The purchase price is $500,000 and a local marketing agreement currently in place allows for $15,000 a month in expenses to be reimbursed to Cox up until the sale closes. According to the asset purchase agreement, Cox believes that the sale price is “substantially below the fair market value” and therefore intends to qualify the difference between the purchase price and the market value of the stations as a charitable contribution. It’s intriguing that Cox can potentially get paid and get a tax write-off for this deal since the purchaser is a non-profit university.
WSHU began airing its programming over WSTC and WNLK in November, 2011 after the proposed sale was announced. Before that time, both Cox stations aired a news and talk format. This isn’t the first time that WSHU has entered into a deal with a commercial station. Last year they began leasing airtime from Ridgefield Broadcasting Corporation for the use of commercial FM station WQQQ. WHSU broadcasts classical music programming and a public radio news format across a number of AM and FM frequencies in both Connecticut and New York. Although there doesn’t appear to be any student involvement in these public radio stations, Sacred Heart University also has the Internet-only student radio station WHRT.