The university on Sept. 19 signed a definitive agreement to sell public radio station WJHU-FM to the community-based Maryland Public Radio Corp., a nonprofit group formed to convert the station from a university-owned entity to a community licensee. The sale price is $5 million.
The sale has been approved by the executive committee of the university's board of trustees. The transaction will occur only after the Federal Communications Commission approves the transfer of the station's FCC license, a process that is expected to take several months.
"Johns Hopkins congratulates Maryland Public Radio and the many, many Marylanders who have stepped up to support its efforts to acquire the station on behalf of the community," said James T. McGill, the university's senior vice president for finance and administration. "The university is proud to have established WJHU as a community service and to have nurtured it for 15 years. We're also proud now to turn it over to a group that we know can take it to the next level and provide one of the best public radio services in the nation."
The university and Maryland Public Radio had on July 13 signed a letter of intent setting forth the broad outlines of the sale agreement and had spent the weeks since then negotiating details. Maryland Public Radio also had been working to finalize its financing arrangements.
The possibility of a sale arose in March, when Johns Hopkins disclosed that groups had expressed interest in either acquiring WJHU or partnering in the operation of the station. The university said then that it would consider whether to sell. It said radio is not part of its core mission and that there are competing needs within the university for the capital investment that WJHU needs to remain a first-class radio service.
The university had said throughout the process that its goal was to ensure the continuation of a quality public radio service to Baltimore featuring NPR news and information programs. It said it also wanted to ensure that there would be significant community input into the station's future direction and that any new management was committed to enhancing the station's service.