Three groups whose initial proposals for acquiring WJHU-FM best addressed the university's priorities for the public radio station's future have been invited to take part in the next stage of the process.
The three entities--public radio stations WAMU-FM in Washington and WBUR-FM in Boston, and Maryland Public Radio, a community-based group--will now have the opportunity to inspect the station and have discussions with its managers and staff. They are being asked then to present final proposals by the end of May.
"These are three groups determined to do what it takes to help WJHU serve the Baltimore area even better than the station does now," said James T. McGill, senior vice president for finance and administration. "That is the outcome the university is seeking."
All three groups have made persuasive cases that they will not only preserve but also enhance and add to news and public affairs programming focused on Baltimore and Maryland, McGill said. All three committed themselves to soliciting significant community input into programming decisions, and all are sensitive to the importance of WJHU's current staff to the station's future, he said.
All three groups are experienced in public radio, and two already run substantial, respected local news operations at their current stations, he said.
The possibility of a sale arose in March, when Johns Hopkins disclosed that two groups had expressed interest in either acquiring WJHU or partnering in the operation of the station. The university said then it does not see radio as part of its core mission and that it would begin a process to consider whether another entity with a broadcasting mission could more effectively operate WJHU. The question is especially important at a time when all public broadcasters face competitive and technological challenges and when WJHU faces significant needs for capital investment, the university said then.
Six outside entities eventually submitted proposals. Johns Hopkins, in evaluating all the proposals, decided that a sale of the station's license and assets was preferable to an operating agreement. University officials expect to choose among the remaining three groups and make a recommendation to the executive committee of the university's board of trustees at its June 11 meeting.