The University of Minnesota Duluth has initiated the process of selling KUMD, its Duluth public radio station, to WDSE, a Public Broadcasting Service television station.
UMD Chancellor Lendley Black introduced a letter of intent to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents on Thursday to sell the station to WDSE for $175,000.
The final details will be worked out over the next few months, but the Board of Regents has engaged in talks of a sale since 2018, citing financial challenges that don’t allow support for KUMD’s ongoing operations and equipment needs.
“Although I enjoy KUMD quite a bit and appreciate its many contributions to our community, campus community and the larger community, it has become increasingly difficult for us to provide much-needed financial support for the ongoing operations and maintenance of KUMD and its broadcasting equipment,” Black said during the regents’ finance and operations committee meeting.
KUMD has five full-time employees, who would all be offered jobs under the deal. The station would remain in Duluth and remain a public radio station.
“This transaction retains a local public radio presence in Duluth, Superior, and northeast Minnesota. WDSE understands and honors the community commitment that has been a long-standing tradition of KUMD,” Black said.
Maija Jenson, former program director for KUMD and faculty member, said keeping the station public is “a huge relief and a huge boon to the community and to students.”
For 63 years, UMD has operated the station, which offers music and local programming to listeners in an 80-mile radius at 103.3 FM and worldwide at kumd.org.
“It has such a long history and I think all change is scary for all people invested. It’s a challenging time and I hope that everything works out well,” Jenson said.
Students run the overnight music programming, but the station does not operate solely as a student-run station.
“The most important thing is the future of Duluth local public radio, and this feels like the best long-term solution,” said Lynne Williams, director of marketing and public relations for UMD.
Williams said the board will review the letter of intent in March and potentially take action to approve it. It would then open up a 90-day due diligence period for WDSE. If that is approved, UMD would file with the FCC, which has up to 180 days to accept the terms of the sale.
Henry Erlandson • 612-673-4789