By Jonathan Moniz, Staff Writer
The sale of WUMD was finalized in an email announced over winter break, but was actually concluded on December 20, according to Assistant Chancellor John Hoey.
The reason for the delay until negotiations were settled was by request of the Rhode Island Public Radio, which UMass Dartmouth sold to.
At the urging of students and the community, several forums have been organized by administration as to the nature of the sale and why it was announced so late and why it was already concluded.
Associate Chancellor Hoey’s answer was that with a multi-million dollar deal such as the sale of WUMD was best left a confidential matter and that “he had wanted to release it over winter break,” but there had always been some schedule with timing.
Volunteers, workers, and any others who interact with the station in some way were also uninformed about the sale until it had concluded. At the forum, there were questions brought up about alternative methods to pursue with the radio station and what yielded the majority of concern was that the sale was made such little communication.
Dr. Milstone and Associate Chancellor Hoey reaffirmed and addressed many of the misunderstandings around this scene from the forum that was held this Monday. They sought to alleviate many student’s concerns and find any ways to possibly negotiate the deal in favor.
Despite agreeing with many of the suggestions, Hoey stated that they cannot actually change the details or licenses of the contract now, and that the contract has been signed.
RIPR’s interest in the FM channel at WUMD was to increase coverage from the only station they owned. As Hoey explained, forty percent of RIPR’s audience was based in Massachusetts.
RIPR and CEO Torey Malatia discussed the potential the sale had for UMass Dartmouth and the community at large, highlighting the more resources a program like that could demand, and also the career opportunities it would afford in times of relationships.
Despite this, much of the community and the listeners at WUMD worry over the diversity of content and the individual programming that the station offered. They worry this will be adversely affected by being unable to reach the same audience they had or keep in contact amongst independent editors and DJs.
There had been two forums since the initial press release, and both forums had seen high interest and debate amongst the attendees. Many presented ideas, plans, options, and comments with which they discussed the impacts of WUMD and the legacy it left behind, as well as highlighting the program.
The first forum last two-and-a-half hours, and the last was an hour long. They fielded questions about finance, comments, questions, concerns, or any general statements about the sale of WUMD.
For the matter of the DJs and other staff at WUMD, they were told they could not “disparage the staff at the university or RIPR” but were free to express their personal opinion. When reaching out to WUMD for a request for comment, the response was that any discussion of the sale would have to be referred to Chancellor Hoey.
With the contract being signed, the process has moved to the public approval period for the FCC, where public complaints are filed and evaluated by the FCC, as are the terms of the deal. There were three motions filed against the purchase.