DARTMOUTH, MA -- UMass Dartmouth and Rhode Island Public Radio (RIPR) have established a collaboration that will transfer the university’s 9,800-watt FCC license to operate WUMD (89.3 FM) to RIPR. RIPR will also continue to broadcast on its present frequencies: 88.1, 91.5, and 102.7.WUMD will continue to deliver its programming online.
Under the terms of the collaboration, UMass Dartmouth will immediately receive $1.5 million in cash from RIPR to endow need-based financial aid and community engagement funds, $617,100 in underwriting time on the RIPR network and additional on-air promotion over the next 10 years. UMass Dartmouth and RIPR will also collaborate on a series of academic and community engagement activities, including internships and public forums.
“This is a win-win-win for UMass Dartmouth, Rhode Island Public Radio, and the communities we all serve,” said UMass Dartmouth interim Chancellor Peyton R. Helm. “We look forward to a long and strong collaboration that creates new opportunities for learning and discovery, while providing scholarships to talented and hardworking students who might not otherwise be able to attend college.”
RIPR will make 89.3 its primary signal by relocating the transmitter and enhancing 89.3’s power within FCC-allowed limits. This will nearly double RIPR’s geographical footprint, and allow 89.3 to reach most of its Rhode Island audience with one signal.
In particular, communities along the East Bay and the middle of Rhode Island will be able to hear the signal in a way that has not been possible with the station’s current array. Moreover, most listeners in the greater Providence area will enjoy a more stable signal and much better in-home reception of RIPR’s award-winning content.
The collaboration will supplement existing print and commercial broadcast media. RIPR's award-winning journalists live in the area and are in daily contact with the region. UMass Dartmouth’s long relationship with South Coast communities will be a central resource for RIPR’s editorial staff.
The signal transfer will also allow RIPR to reach roughly two-thirds of southeastern Massachusetts, extending north of Taunton and east of New Bedford. This will allow the station to serve a broader audience and report on matters of interest to the South Coast region.
“Broadcasting over the enhanced 89.3 FM signal will be transformative for Rhode Island Public Radio,” RIPR President and CEO Torey Malatia said. “Our current broadcast pattern significantly limits our ability to reach residents with RIPR’s in-depth local news and information. This signal improvement is a significant step – one of several we are planning – to provide a public voice for Rhode Island and the South Coast.”
The UMass Dartmouth/RIPR collaboration is an indicator of the economic and cultural affinity that exists between southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Inter-region activity related to the newspaper industry, tourism, offshore wind, marine science, and education is growing. UMass Dartmouth, meanwhile, currently has 301 students, 215 employees, and 2,625 alumni living in Rhode Island.
UMASS Dartmouth plans to utilize proceeds from the transfer to:
-- Endow a need-based student financial aid fund.
-- Endow a micro-grant program to help students in acute financial distress stay in school and finish on time.
-- Endow grants to support community engagement initiatives that benefit UMass Dartmouth students and strengthen the economic and social fabric of the community.
-- Modernize the WUMD studio facilities so the station can continue providing quality learning opportunities for students and diverse programming for online listeners.
The collaboration also provides for South Coast representation on the RIPR Board of Directors and RIPR’s Community Advisory Board. Preference will be given to individuals residing in the Dartmouth-New Bedford-Fall River areas.
In addition, RIPR will provide two internships for qualified students during the fall and spring semesters, and the UMass Dartmouth Graduate Professional Writing Program may provide a graduate assistant to RIPR per school year, beginning Fall 2017. UMass Dartmouth and RIPR will also collaborate on the development of at least one ongoing service-learning journalism class.
WUMD will continue to deliver its programming online. The station’s eclectic mix of music and public affairs content can currently be heard worldwide at 893WUMD.org. RIPR, which has established a high quality online presence has agreed to assist WUMD in developing its online station. Additional details will be announced at a later date.
The agreement is subject to Federal Communications Commission approval. The approval process includes opportunities for public input. The process is expected to take three months to complete.
About the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
UMass Dartmouth is a Tier 1 national research university located on 710 acres on the scenic SouthCoast of Massachusetts. With nearly 9,000 students in undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs, and a 400-member faculty that annually produces $27 million in research activity, the university is an innovation catalyst that generates nearly a half billion dollars of economic activity in the region. Home to the Commonwealth’s only public law school and recognized as a national Top 20 university for civic engagement, UMass Dartmouth contributes more than 230,000 hours of community service per year. The university has 45,000 alumni.
About Rhode Island Public Radio
Rhode Island Public Radio is devoted to covering Southeastern New England news by bringing the area the best in public radio programming from NPR and other sources. Our local newsroom has reporters specializing in healthcare, education, the environment and local politics. Rhode Island Public Radio’s mission is to provide Southeastern New Englanders with quality journalism and compelling storytelling that informs, educates and inspires community. We are available on 88.1 FM in Greater Providence, 102.7 FM in Southern Rhode Island and 91.5 FM in Coventry and central Rhode Island. Our news stories are available on our website, RIPR.org. Listeners can stream our programming on our website and on our iPhone app.
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