Breaking: WRVU Purchased by WPLN, Will Become Classical Station

by Jim Ridley -Jun 7, 2011 2 PM

The Scene has received word that after months of speculation, the Vanderbilt college radio station WRVU 91.1 FM has apparently been purchased by WPLN 90.3 FM, the city's National Public Radio affiliate. The new 91 Rock will be WFCL — Classical 91 One. It will offer classical music 24 hours a day, seven days a week, freeing WPLN to pursue all-NPR news programming.

A press release is expected later today. More details as they arrive.

UPDATE, 3:09 p.m.: Official press release below.

Vanderbilt Student Communications and Nashville Public Radio Announce Launch of Classical 91.1

Nashville, Tenn.- June 7, 2011 - The Board of Directors of Vanderbilt Student Communications and the Board of Directors of Nashville Public Radio agreed today to the transfer of the license of WRVU 91.1FM to Nashville Public Radio. The new station’s call letters will be WFCL and its mission will be to showcase classical music and the arts and promote local performances and events. The change in format is effective June 8.

WRVU’s eclectic programming format continues without interruption as an online service and will resume over-the-air broadcast service on WPLN’s HD3 channel beginning in the fall of 2011.

The agreement calls for a payment of $3,350,000 from Nashville Public Radio to Vanderbilt Student Communications, gives WRVU the use of WPLN-HD3 and guarantees internship opportunities for Vanderbilt students in Nashville Public Radio’s award-winning news department.

Vanderbilt Student Communications is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization chartered in 1967 to manage Vanderbilt’s student media. After careful deliberation, which included inviting extensive feedback from the community over the last nine months, its Board concluded the creation of an endowment was critical to ensuring VSC’s ability to service the information and cultural needs of the Vanderbilt student population.

“The media industry is changing dramatically, a fact nowhere more obvious than on a college campus where younger consumers and content producers are gravitating to innovative technologies,” said Mark Wollaeger, Vanderbilt University English professor and chair of the VSC Board of Directors. “This agreement will help ensure for our students the opportunity to shape the future of media for years to come.

“Students and faculty members representing VSC researched various options privately and publicly for two years and ultimately concluded the sale to Nashville Public Radio best addresses the greatest number of needs,” Wollaeger said. “This arrangement will allow 91.1FM to preserve students’ radio experience online and on-air via HD, remain a community asset, develop an internship program at Nashville Public Radio and create financial security through an endowment for VSC.”

Nashville Public Radio is an independent, community-licensed public radio station, originally licensed by the FCC in 1962 as a unit of the Nashville Public Library. Nashville Public Radio, a charter member of National Public Radio, separated from Metro Government in 1996 and has since been governed by a board of private citizens.

Nashville Public Radio operates 90.3FM, WPLN 1430AM, WTML 91.5FM in Tullahoma, WHRS 91.7FM in Cookeville, WPLN-HD2 and WPLN-HD3. All of WPLN’s program services are available as an Internet stream.

Michael Koban, the Chair of the Board of Directors of Nashville Public Radio, said, “The board was excited about the potential for the acquisition of 91.1FM to strengthen our entire organization. We saw clearly how our signature public radio formats, music and news, could reach their full potential for audience service as standalone stations.”

Nashville Public Radio President Rob Gordon said, “This move strengthens our ability to deliver both news and music because it gives us room to enhance and build each service.

“Over the years our listeners and supporters have asked us to establish separate news and music services, which we’ve not been able to do because of the limited number of frequencies available on the FM band. Multiple public radio stations have proven successful in many other cities; now we’re proud to say Nashville can support both an NPR news and a full-time classical music station.”

As part of its mission the new station will partner closely with area arts organizations and present local performances and interviews with artists and musicians.

“This belongs to the community,” Gordon said. “We want Classical 91.1 to reflect our region’s vibrant, energetic arts scene. Over the coming weeks and months we’ll ask area arts organizations for feedback and input on how to make the station a vital resource for the arts in our region.

“We are grateful for the confidence the Vanderbilt Student Communications board has placed in us and applaud the current and earlier VSC boards and staff for their many years of careful custodianship and management of WRVU,” Gordon said. “We are also delighted to offer opportunities for Vanderbilt student interns to experience what it is like to work in a professional newsroom.”


Rob Gordon
President, Nashville Public Radio
(615) 760-2002

Mark Wollaeger
Chair, Vanderbilt Student Communications Board
(615) 915-4686