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WCBU agreement: Bradley keeps the license, ISU operates

Bradley University announced Thursday that an agreement has been reached and signed with Illinois State University to keep WCBU-FM on Bradley’s campus.

Bradley will have a new office location for WCBU-FM on campus, while maintaining the station’s FCC licence, call letters and the 89.9 frequency. However, the operational responsibility will be shifted to WGLT-FM in Normal by June 1.

“The licence is held by Bradley along with the transmitter and everything basically that requires us to build a broadcast,” said Zach Gorman, Bradley’s chief information officer. “We partner with WGLT to manage the operational aspect of the station. That will be personnel, finance, fundraising and that kind of thing.”

As part of the transition, all current WCBU-FM staff will need to go through the ISU application process to continue at the station after their employment contracts expire on May 31.

“By state law, because [ISU is a] public university, we can’t transfer anyone from another entity,” WGLT-FM general manager R.C. McBride said. “So anyone would have to go through the application process, and that’s not necessarily a choice we have,”

Gorman said Bradley will assist current staff of the station in the application process.

“As those employees are qualified for various different roles at Bradley, we would assist with identifying those positions and provide them with appropriate resources for them to apply to those,” Gorman said.

McBride said in the release the local content from WCBU-FM will not just remain, but might increase.

“We know some have been concerned about a potential loss of localism at WCBU,” McBride said. “We plan to increase WCBU’s local content, just as we have been able to do at WGLT over the last several years.”

Gorman reassured that Bradley has no intention to let go of the station, and McBride echoed the sentiment.

“Bradley has been very clear from the beginning as an institution that they have no interest in getting rid of the licence. And to be honest, we don’t have any interest in acquiring the license,” McBride said. “Traditionally, if a license is transferred like that, there’s purchase involved. To be honest, we don’t have the money. It wouldn’t be sustainable for us to do that.”

As public radio stations are often supported by public donations, all donations for WCBU-FM will be handled by ISU starting June 1.

“If you make a donation to WCBU, that money goes to WCBU operations,” McBride said. “Money raised by WCBU for WCBU will goes to WCBU; money raised by WGLT for WGLT will go to WGLT.”

According to Gorman, Bradley will relocate the station from Jobst Hall to the fourth floor of Morgan Hall, as Jobst Hall will be demolished this fall as part of the Business and Engineering Complex construction plan.

“We get about 45 days to get things moving. So there will still be some stuff happening behind the scene,” Gorman said. “It’s enough time, we will get it done.”

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