If you live in Utah and listen to KCPW, you might have heard their urgent pleas for cash to purchase the station and keep it local. Not much more was said about it, leaving the situation unusually murky for a station noted for its excellent news coverage.
I had heard rumors of possible financial impropriety back in 2005, so, since then, I had not been contributing, so what's the deal?
The deal is: Community Wireless Radio and its board had approved salaries that were very high by public radio standards for Blair Fuehlner. According to federal tax filings by Community Wireless, Blair Feulner was paid $177,877 in total compensation in fiscal 2006 as station general manager and secretary/treasurer. Though his high salary had raised eyebrows in the past, it became an increasingly hot issue as KCPW operated at a loss in 2006 and 2007 with record contributions from listeners.
Community Wireless Radio decided to sell KCPW, keeping only KPCW in Park City, Utah. Three bidders have been acknowleged: the University of Utah (owner of another NPR station KUER), Wasatch Public Media (an organization formed by KCPW operations manager Ed Sweeney and other KCPW employees), and an unidentified California-based Christian broadcasting company.
Wasatch Public Media made a $2.4 million offer in March for the FM license only to find out that
Feulner had already had reached a package deal with the Christian group for both KCPW's FM and AM bands. Wasatch Public Media now has just a few days to raise $3.7 million to match that offer or KCPW will no longer be an NPR station.
Stephen Eccles Denkers who has made significant contributions and helped to establish the Denkers studio at Library Square was shocked by the move. Though he has a depth of experience in fundraising, he is flummoxed at the short timeline and can't understand the rush.
Little has been said on the air by Feulner's order.
Contributions made to KCPW now will go to help Wasatch Public Media purchase KCPW and keep it locally controlled and under management many in the community believe are trustworthy and committed to excellence in programming, reasonable and customary compensation for the employees. Blair Feulner would no longer be involved with the station.