MHCC Cutting Broadcasting Program forums forums Portland Radio MHCC Cutting Broadcasting Program


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    Andy is the FCC rules expert on this board, so I am not challenging his knowledge regarding the transfer of a non-commercial license. I ran across an article on university student stations KTRU (Houston, TX), WRAS (Atlanta, GA), WRVU (Nashville, TN), and KUSF (San Francisco, CA). The article uses the phrase “sold the FM frequency” and then quotes figures in the millions of dollars. I acknowledge that this might have been a very deliberate choice of words to not overwhelm the layman with the legal complexity of what the schools involved had to do to execute the license transfer (save for the case of WRAS, which is still licensed to Georgia State University, but student-produced programming now airs only at night). The dollar figures in the article are not the monetary value of the FCC license. Here is a link to the article:

    In the late 1990s, I tried to scare would-be First Amendment “heroes” at our university station with the idea that our broadcast license was worth about $1 million, and that if the station racked up an FCC fine, the school’s board of trustees had the authority to dispose of the license to avoid future liabilities. I was factually wrong about license having that kind of value. What I do stand by is stating that religious groups and the local NPR affiliate (which ran all of its news programs on AM) would likely have been interested in our license.


    Got it. Thank you both!

    More like a transfer of assets following consideration kind of thing, it sounds like. Which is really a slow motion sale, no matter what terminology is applied. It’s not a quick money grab from one non profit entity to another.

    Steve Naganuma

    Locally, Portland Public Schools sold 89.9FM for 5.5 million in 2003.


    On the issue of the sale of an NCE license, we may be confusing the sale of the license versus the “sale” or transfer of a non-profit entity.

    As we have seen in the Christian radio world, you can purchase and assume control of a NCE station just as quickly as a commercial one. I remember EMF taking over WMHK and WRCM in a matter of weeks after the ownership decided to sell. When the actual check was delivered, I don’t know, but it is very simple to sell and buy stations these days.


    I was under the impression that a group of people got together to raise funds to save KPLU from being taken over by the local primary NPR station, which had already filed an application. The concern was that they would mess with the balance between jazz and news. As I recall, the group raised $16 million!

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by semoochie.
    Andy Brown

    “On the issue of the sale of an NCE license, we may be confusing the sale of the license versus the โ€œsaleโ€ or transfer of a non-profit entity.”

    No one except perhaps for you is confused. Again (read the other post), licenses are not sold. Media reports often state that, but it is flat out false. Licenses are granted, reassigned, transferred or deleted. What are sold are the businesses that hold the license, aka the licensee.

    “you can purchase and assume control of a NCE station just as quickly as a commercial one.”

    Not true. The transfer of a license or purchase of an existing broadcast business does not happen quickly. Not ever. Not in the commercial or non commercial cases. “Control of the license” (your text) is also a poor choice of words for those cases where a pre-sale LMA is put in place. You are mistaking this as the actual transfer, but it is not. This allows the potential assignee of the license to begin to put in place a new format overseen by new managers. They assume control of programming and production, and even may proceed with buying new equipment and installing it. However, during the pre-sale LMA they do not assume control of the license. They do not become the licensee until the parties have agreed to the sale in writing and submitted it to the FCC along with the appropriate forms about who the new licensee entity is owned and operated by. This takes on the order of one to three months depending on challenges, which you appear to be in the dark about. Public notice of the potential transfer of the license must be announced and published in public medium and there is a waiting period in which anyone may object to the transfer. Only after this period of time has passed without incident will the FCC take up the matter and grant the transfer.


    Thanks Matt for chiming in on the state of the program in the early 80’s; you summarized well how KMHD was birthed. It made sense for the fledgling KMHD to play jazz: it was an untapped format in the Portland area, and Gresham and MHCC were working to build an annual world-class Jazz Festival (that eventually fizzled). But, Radio Production Technology was a program populated with students mostly interested in playing contemporary rock and pop music, with a sprinkling of news junkies. No one really knew what to do with jazz. I remember taking a few of the earliest shakedown shifts, and able to do little more than throw albums on the turntables (nothing had been carted up yet) and read song titles and liner notes. More often than not I had no idea what the cut would sound like until I dropped the needle on-air. Thank goodness more capable jazz jocks came on the scene after I graduated.

    My internship time spent at KEX working with Dave Anderson on his live evening show, and Tom Michaels in the production room, was more valuable experience than the time I spent at the nascent KMHD.


    22 years ago, I taught one semester of radio broadcasting at MCC. Several students have gone on to radio careers, including Bryan Griggs and David Martin.

    Tis’ a sad day, but not really all that surprising.


    No one except perhaps for you is confused.

    Andy…I am sorry my thoughts on the matter upset you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Forgive me, I was talking more generally. You are right that the actual “control” of the license isn’t legal until the transfer takes place at the FCC.

    My point was that taking over NCE stations is not any harder than commercial ones. I was using the word “control” to mean being able to take over the day-to-day operations. I should have been more clear.



    I did track down the sale price for KPLU, several relay stations, and translators
    . It went for a cool $8 million… is a great site for quickly tracking down purchase agreements, LMAs, etc.

    Steve Naganuma

    Looks like the public outcry is having an impact. MHCC Board needs more review time before making a decision.

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