The Song has stopped singing for AU.
After announcing last December that the university planned to sell its radio station, 98.7 The Song, AU is now “in the homestretch” of finalizing the sale to the Educational Media Foundation according to Ryon Kaopuiki, vice president for enrollment and marketing. The sale presently rests in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission.
“Assuming all goes smoothly during this period, the process of finalizing the sale with the FCC could take another month or so,” Kaopuiki said last week.
The station’s purchase price is $725,000. Kaopuiki said the university has not yet “made specific decisions about how the money from the sale will be used.”
As part of the sale, four full-time employees lost their jobs. Their final days of work varied from late last fall semester to over the summer when AU transitioned away from leadership of the station.
Although the sale won’t be finalized for a few weeks, the station’s broadcasts haven’t been handled by AU since May.
Educational Media Foundation, the parent company for K-LOVE and Air1 Christian radio stations, took over the WQME signal officially on June 1 via a Network Affiliation Agreement.
“For lack of a better term, we’ve let them use our signal to broadcast their programming as we work through finalizing the sale,” Kaopuiki said.
As part of FCC regulations, the university had to inform local media outlets beginning Sept. 12 that the sale was pending completion. This 30-day public notice period is meant “to give people an opportunity to weigh in [on the sale] as a public.”
The university was required to “include a public notice in the local newspaper and broadcast an announcement of the pending sale on the station,” he said. “There were requirements of how many times the notice had to appear in the paper and be broadcast, and it directed people to the FCC public files for more information about the application.”
Kaopuiki reiterated that the sale neither includes the building where the station was run, nor any equipment.
“The sale doesn’t include anything in the studio,” he said. “In fact, visual communications is taking over some of those spaces. [Professor] David Armstrong has done some neat things with the studio over there for students to use.”
When the university decided to sell the station last year, the declining academic value was cited as a chief reason for parting ways with the station after 27 years.
“There have been a number of years since there has been academic value in the station,” Kaopuiki said last December. “As we look at where the priorities are, at that point it’s probably best that we pivot away.”
On May 31, a farewell post was published on the WQME Facebook page.
The message concluded by saying: “Being part of your lives in Central Indiana for so many years has been a great honor. We are excited that the Contemporary Christian format that you have grown to love on The Song, and WQME before that, will continue on the frequency. On behalf of Anderson University, its staff, faculty, students and the staff of 98.7 The Song…thank you!”