President Michael Graham, S.J., announces sale of WVXU Radio

Cincinnati's WGUC buying WVXU and X-Star Radio Network in deal that pairs classical music and news formats | March 11, 2005

Cincinnati's classical public radio station, WGUC 90.9 FM, has signed a $15 million asset purchase agreement with Xavier University for WVXU 91.7 FM, Xavier's public radio station, and its affiliated X-Star Radio Network. The sale becomes official upon approval by the Federal Communications Commission, which could take 90 days or longer.

Xavier intends to use the proceeds to help finance construction of the new academic quadrangle, a key element of the University's strategic plan, said President Michael Graham, S.J., in announcing the sale today.

"The sale of WVXU was a tough but very necessary decision by the Xavier University Board of Trustees," Graham said.

"The decision was made a bit easier by the possibility of 'keeping it in the family' so to speak with WGUC. The funds from the sale will allow us to better serve our mission of preparing students to serve society by helping to fund the strategic plan and campus expansion. Part of that plan is the creation of the James E. Hoff Academic Quadrangle, a living-learning center that will enhance our ability to educate students in the 21st century."

Richard Eiswerth, president and general manager of WGUC, which broke away from the University of Cincinnati several years ago, said he became aware in September that the licenses for WVXU and the X-Star Network may be available. He began to pursue the opportunity with the approval of the board of directors for Cincinnati Classical Public Radio, Inc.

"Obtaining a second frequency to better serve both our classical music and news audiences has been a core part of WGUC's ongoing strategic plan for the past five years," Eiswerth said.

The next few months will be spent talking with WVXU listeners, exploring options and designing specific formats for each station. Eiswerth said he expects WGUC will become a fulltime classical music station and WVXU will primarily focus on news, information and National Public Radio (NPR) programming such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

WVXU just completed its annual spring fund drive, raising more than $400,000. The funds allow the station to maintain its operations during the transition. Listeners who wish may request a refund of their donations.

Xavier University may sell WVXU and its affiliated stations only to another non-commercial entity because of Federal Communications Commission regulations. Both WGUC and Xavier University are committed to preserving Cincinnati's longtime public radio broadcast heritage.

"We focused on this partnership because of the benefits it would bring to the community and current WVXU listeners in particular," said Gary Massa, Xavier's vice president for university relations.

The purchase by WGUC ensures that WVXU remains a locally owned public radio station with its public radio frequency preserved, and that WGUC remains a strong, independent classical public radio station.

"This is an exceptional opportunity for public radio in Cincinnati, and WGUC is fully prepared to take on the challenge," said Ron Ott, chairman of the Cincinnati Classical Public Radio, Inc., board of directors. "The investment WGUC will make will not only preserve a news and information public radio station but also ensure its own survival."

Eiswerth said Cincinnatians appreciate the high-quality, locally produced educational, cultural and informational programming that local public radio stations have provided for the last 50 years.

"We see this as a new era for public radio in Cincinnati, and a step that will ensure the diversity of local, non-commercial programming and continue Cincinnati's proud broadcast heritage," Eiswerth said.

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