It appears the long-rumored sale of WBRU is nearing its conclusion.
Radio Insight and other media outlets are reporting the sale of the student-run station at Brown University to the non-profit Educational Media Foundation, one of the nation’s largest Christian broadcasters, is in its final stages.
Reports are that the call letters could switch to WLVO as early as next week, and the station would broadcast the contemporary Christian rock station K-LOVE, a nationally syndicated program run by the Foundation.
The irony of the sale of a once progressive voice in the state to a conservative Christian radio group is stunning, and while K-LOVE already broadcasts in Rhode Island, the 95.5 signal will broaden its reach significantly.
As the local media landscape continues to transform, the loss of WBRU is particularly hard to swallow for many who grew up on the station. Although programming has shifted over the years, the “alternative” nature of ‘BRU appealed to a wide range of listeners. And although many older fans moved away from the station years ago, the institution – local, independent and student managed, not to mention profitable – was a powerful force.
The loss of ‘BRU, along with the recent take-over of WUMD in South Dartmouth, is one more nail in the coffin of FM radio.
Meanwhile, WBRU could have less than a week to go on air. The station management has promised to keep the music and other programs alive online and through apps they hope to develop.