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Thursday, June 12, 2003

SU Foundation Votes to Retain WSCL

SALISBURY, MDIn a special public meeting, the Salisbury University Foundation board of directors voted Wednesday, June 11, to retain the license of public radio station WSCL, and at the same time develop a closer and more prominent association between the station and the University.

 

The specific areas to be changed are to be identified and implemented collaboratively between WSCL staff and Foundation and University officials.

 

“We look forward to continuing a relationship between WSCL, the University and the community which will benefit all,” said Henry Hanna, chair of the SU Foundation.

 

The vote to retain the station comes at a time when the budget crisis confronting the University is severe and getting worse.  Across the state, campuses are bracing for tuition increases, reductions in student services and academic programs, and additional layoffs.  At SU, another eight to 15 positions may be eliminated in the next round of cuts, on top of the 15 already eliminated this spring.

 

In the current fiscal climate, Salisbury University officials have said that business as usual was not possible.

 

In March the Foundation received an unsolicited contact from a representative of WYPR in Baltimore expressing an interest in purchasing WSCL.  Two other inquiries about the availability of the station followed.  Although the Foundation had never considered selling WSCL prior to this unsolicited inquiry, “We had a fiduciary responsibility to initiate a process to determine the value of the station and to present those findings to the Foundation’s Public Radio Committee and the Foundation Board,” said Albert Mollica, executive director of the Foundation and SU vice president of advancement.

 

The Foundation contracted for two appraisals that valued the station at some $1.15 million.

 

At the same time, the University began the process of evaluating the value of WSCL within the context of the economic climate and the University’s central mission, which is service to students.

 

Considerable public and campus discussion in recent weeks centered on the service WSCL provided the community versus its direct value to the education of students.  The vote today is seen by many as a desire by the Foundation board to foster both.

 

For more information, call SU Public Relations at 410-543-6030.

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Statement from SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach

WSCL is a valued asset to the greater Salisbury community and the tri-state region.  Over the past decade, Salisbury University has clearly established itself as Delmarva’s cultural center, and a strong emphasis on the arts and support for programs that benefit the larger community are consistent with the University’s mission.

Nonetheless, at a time when Salisbury University employees have lost their jobs and others have endured the hardships of increased workloads and reduced pay, to maintain the status quo between WSCL and Salisbury University is not an option.

In recent years, WSCL has had few linkages with the University, its academic programs, students, faculty and staff.  For Salisbury University to continue to support WSCL, and I believe we should do so, a stronger relationship must be established with the University.  New benefits to the University and to the station can readily be achieved.  Students must be provided internship opportunities, and cultural events that take place at the University should be featured on WSCL.  Programming should take into consideration the interests not only of off-campus listeners, but also the interests of the individuals who live, study and work at Salisbury University.

Many other universities throughout the nation have affiliated NPR radio stations and thrive in a mutually beneficial arrangement.  The Salisbury University Foundation Board has a very real opportunity to turn the present dilemma into a win-win situation.  Let us seize this moment not only to reaffirm the value of WSCL, but also to strengthen the station and its relationship with the University.  The end result will be greater involvement by students and the University community in general, more listeners, and even greater financial support.

I urge the SU Foundation Board members to retain the WSCL license, and I propose the following action plan:

1.  That Provost David Buchanan convene a 5-7 member working group of Foundation Board members, SU students and faculty for the purpose of reviewing the station’s format and programming.  This group should include the chair of the Foundation’s Public Radio Committee and Vice President for Student Affairs Carol Williamson. 

2.  That Provost Buchanan, on behalf of the working group, report back to the Foundation Board on a quarterly basis.

3.  That in one year’s time the University and the Foundation Board evaluate the status of WSCL and its effectiveness in serving the larger community and the interests of Salisbury University.

Please vote to retain WSCL and to permit us the opportunity to make the station even better.

Thank you for your consideration and support.

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WSCL/SU Foundation Fact Sheet

 

* WSCL began broadcasting at 89.5 on the FM dial on Mary 29, 1987 from studios at Salisbury University with a broadcast signal from the WHYY tower in Seaford, DE.

 

* WSCL is the equivalent of a 50,000-watt station.

 

* The station was founded with contributions from the public and Salisbury University including a  $100,000 grant donated to SU by WMDT-TV.  The license is held by the Salisbury University Foundation, Inc., a non-profit corporation which supports the educational mission of SU. 

 

* The founder and first general manager of WSCL was Mark Handley.  Fred Marino has held the GM position since 1990.

 

* Affiliated with National Public Radio, the BBC and Public Radio International, WSCL broadcasts a news and classical music format.  It is the only classical music station on the Delmarva Peninsula.

 

* Housed in Caruthers Hall, WSCL occupies about 4,000 square feet of space.  Facilities include offices, two production control rooms, a studio for broadcasting interviews, debates and panel discussions, and Seagull Studio, a 24-track digital recording facility capable of recording musical and other productions for broadcast.

 

* In 1998 WSCL added a repeater station, WSDL, (90.7 FM), with a transmitter tower in Roxana, DE, which broadcasts to Atlantic coastal resort communities.  WSCL and WSDL can be heard throughout Delmarva.

 

* The University provides financial support to WSCL estimated at $100,000 annually.  The station’s annual budget is some $800,000 with university, in-kind and other support.

 

* WSCL maintains a listenership of some 36,000.  It employs 12 and has some 26 volunteers.

 

* The six-member Public Radio Committee, all Foundation board members and headed by committee chair Klein Leister, oversees the station for the SU Foundation.

 

* The intent of the 30-year-old SU Foundation, Inc.  is to promote, sponsor and carry out educational, scientific and charitable purposes and objectives for the benefit of SU and its students.  Since 1973, the Foundation has grown in importance in supporting the vital mission of the University.  Foundation assets are valued at $27.5 million in recent unaudited reports. Henry Hanna is chair of its 33-member board.   Al Mollica is executive director of the SU Foundation and SU vice president of advancement.

 


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