WNYC Buys NYT‘s Classical Music Station

logos.pngNew York public radio station WNYC just announced that it has purchased classical music station WQXR from The New York Times, promising to maintain its classical format and transform it into a public radio station.

As part of the deal, Univision Radio Inc. will pay $33.5 million to swap its FCC broadcast license for 105.9 FM and transmitting equipment for the New York Times Co.’s license, equipment, and signal at 96.3 FM. Then WNYC will pay the Times Co. $11.5 million for 105.9 FM’s FCC broadcast license, transmitting equipment, WQXR’s call letters and Web site.

WNYC, the largest AM/FM radio station in the U.S., will maintain WQXR’s 73-year history of broadcasting classical music, but will move the station to 105.9 FM. Univision will be moving its WCAA station to 96.3 FM, a move that Gary Stone, president and COO of Univision Radio said would give “the Hispanic population of New York and the surrounding area…more diversity in music, entertainment and news, while classical music will continue to have a home.”

The $45 million deal, which is subject to FCC approval, is expected to close during the second half of the year and WQXR is expected to begin airing at its new spot on the dial in October.

WNYC’s purchase of WQXR is part of its newly launched Campaign to Preserve Classical Music Radio in New York City. The $15 million campaign, aided by lead donor The Jerome L. Green Foundation, “will assist with the purchase and ongoing operation” of WQXR, WNYC said in a press release today.

WNYC will also start to work to transform WQXR into a public radio station. “In contrast to the current WQXR commercial model, with its total reliance on advertising, the public radio model provides for a mix of funding through contributions from members and other individual donors, private foundations, city, state and federal entities and grants, and corporate underwriting,” the station explained. “This will allow WQXR to remain a key connector between arts and cultural organizations and their audiences.”

WNYC also plans to continue to broadcast two of WQXR’s most popular live programs: “Saturday Afternoon at the Opera” and “The Philharmonic This Week.” The station will operate out of the new WNYC facilities in Hudson Square.