Providence, RI – August 29, 2017 — An advanced media workshop with extensive offerings in music, news and community service is being launched by students at Brown University. The workshop has begun a major buildout of the wbru.com web site with two 24/7 music streams going online this week, plus expanded coverage of local news and the local music scene planned for the near future. With a dedicated Research & Development team, the workshop will explore new concepts in content creation and delivery with possible commercial applications.
The workshop will be the successor to WBRU-FM, the student-run commercial radio station that has been a leader in rock music and community service for 50 years.
“WBRU is not going away,” said the station’s general manager, Kishanee Haththotuwegama. “We are moving to a 21st century platform with greater potential for creative expression and community service. As an organization of young people, we want to lead in platforms that we’re passionate about and future generations are passionate about.”
Brown Broadcasting Service, Inc., (BBS), the station’s non-profit corporate owner, has agreed to sell the broadcasting license and transmitter of WBRU-FM to the Educational Media Foundation (EMF). Robert J. Maccini of Media Services Group acted as the exclusive broker and represented Brown Broadcasting Service, Inc. in the sale of the station.
An application for approval of the transfer was filed with the Federal Communications Commission today. Under the terms of an agreement between the parties, WBRU-FM will cease its current programming on 95.5 at 11:59 pm on August 31 and will begin broadcasting programming provided by EMF immediately thereafter.
Proceeds from the sale will form an endowment for the new workshop. Income from the endowment will support its operations.
“WBRU has always been about independence and innovation, and we’re excited to continue that legacy,” said WBRU member Kai Salem. “Our content will be broad, deep and widely accessible. We’ll start off with two 24/7 streams broadcasting our alt and 360 content. We’ll be engaging with local music and news through audio stories, video, and online journalism. We’ve also decided to formally build innovation into our brand by launching our first ever research and development department.
“The new WBRU will be more innovative, accessible, flexible, and independent than ever before.”
WBRU will be launching a weekly news roundup podcast with exclusive and in-depth stories,” said News Director Andie Corban. “From there we’ll move onto a panel discussion where a group of activists and experts will break down one of the biggest stories of the week and what it means to our listeners. We’ll also be launching a daily email newsletter.”
“WBRU has always been a supporter of quality music both from the Rhode Island community and beyond, and with a larger online presence we intend to broaden our regular programming as well as expand our role in the local music community” said producer Matt Haronian. “We aspire to become a digital hub for the best in local music and events.”
“We’re already in the process of planning Sound Wave: Rhode Island, a podcast that will explore the rich past and present of the music community in Rhode Island with in-depth interviews, exclusive new music, and interviews to illuminate New England’s musical history,” said producer Sam McKinney. “This will be just the first of a new collection of content that is artist-centric and tells interesting stories about a place with an incredible arts community.”
“WBRU’s long-running Sunday program ‘The 360 Degree Experience in Sound’ is steadfast in its commitment to the greater Providence and RI black and incarcerated communities,” said Kyle Tildon, 360 co-director. “We plan on continuing that on-air tradition by finding another station to carry our Sunday programming and are currently in search of that new signal.
“But with the new 24/7 stream, we have the amazing opportunity to not only expand our 360 programming from one day a week to seven, we also have the bandwidth to do more. Already in the works is a show called the Amplifier that will highlight the amazing work of existing Providence organizations that work with Black, Brown and marginalized people.”
“WBRU will create a Research and Development department for the first time in its history,” said WBRU general manager Kishanee Haththotuwegama. “In creating this, we hope to ensure a focused opportunity for students from Brown and other area colleges to experiment at the intersections of media, music, information and technology. The vision at work in Research and Development will retain the core principles of WBRU for years to come.”
“WBRU has always been about innovation and that is at the core of the decision to sell the FM license and move to the digital platform of tomorrow,” said Peter Litman, president of BBS and a WBRU alumnus. “This move is the logical next step in a series of innovations that have shaped WBRU’s history. In 1936, two experimenters strung a network of transmission wires through Brown University dorms and created one of the country’s first college radio stations; in the 60s, visionary students made WBRU one of the first college radio stations with a commercial FM license. More recently, in the 90s WBRU became one of the first radio stations to stream on the internet.”
The WBRU students and BBS Board of Directors see the move as a way to empower students at Brown University and other local colleges to be leaders in producing and distributing local music, news and community information.
WBRU is not going away. While we are currently in the final stages of selling its FM broadcasting license, we have big plans. We are going to reinvest the revenue from the sale to continue creating music and news content for the southern New England community. This will be provided on various platforms—platforms that millions of people already use to access their music and news content in the car, on their phones and computers, and on home streaming devices.
Before we leave 95.5, 24/7 streams of both alternative rock and The 360 Degree Experience in Sound will be available at wbru.com and via our new smartphone apps. This marks the first time that either format has been available seven-days-a-week from WBRU.
Our mission statement directs us to be a self-supporting educational workshop focused on creating and distributing music-centric entertainment and news content. It is with serious consideration for this mission that we take this next step. With technologies and media habits changing so rapidly, we want to channel our energy and resources into creating a content-based media workshop with an eye towards innovation. WBRU has a storied history as a leader in innovation. We were one of the country’s first college radio stations and one of the first college stations to acquire a commercial FM license—before it was a popular platform. We were also among the first stations to stream on the Internet. It is with the same entrepreneurial spirit that we’re moving forward.
We deeply appreciate the support of our audience and advertisers over the years and hope the new WBRU will reach even more people in Rhode Island and the surrounding areas. We invite you to share your ideas with us: what would you like to see from WBRU in the future? You can reach us at email@example.com, and stay connected here at wbru.com/updates.