(Boston) — Boston University and The WBUR Group today announced that after a detailed review process, they have made a decision to continue to operate public radio in Rhode Island. Retaining the WRNI/WXNI listener base is a key element of the strategic plan created by the current WBUR Group management.
“We are making a long-term commitment to the listeners of Rhode Island,” said Peter Fiedler, Acting General Manager of The WBUR Group and a vice president of Boston University. “The first thing we are going to do is hire a full-time general manager for WRNI/WXNI with ties to the local community.”
Fiedler, who will continue to oversee WBUR Group operations for the University when a permanent general manager is hired for The WBUR Group, said he has already begun the process of developing criteria for the Rhode Island GM position and seeking candidates.
“We’ll be looking for someone with a background in broadcasting and a Rhode Island perspective,” said Fiedler. We want that individual to be a presence in the local community and guide the stations’ programming and fundraising efforts.”
The prior management of The WBUR Group announced last September that WRNI and WXNI were to be sold. Shortly thereafter Boston University President and Rhode Island native Dr. Aram Chobanian put the sale on hold. In the intervening period, the management team led by Fiedler undertook a top to bottom review of The WBUR Group’s operations. They hired an outside consulting firm, Grant Thornton, which issued its report early this year. The station has since stabilized its finances, streamlined its operations and established a new management structure. In addition, a search committee assisted by international search firm Korn Ferry, which has a broadcast specialization, is in the process of screening candidates for a permanent general manager of The WBUR Group.
One of the issues that the current management reviewed was the composition of the listenership in the Ocean State. Based on the demographics and the potential to increase the number of listeners, the decision was made to maintain and ideally to grow WRNI and WXNI’s core.
“I can say on behalf of my colleagues at both The WBUR Group and the University that we are delighted to renew our commitment to WRNI and WXNI and look forward to a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship with the citizens of Rhode Island,” noted Fiedler.
One of New England’s leading sources of news and information, WBUR is owned and operated by Boston University and is a member station of National Public Radio. WBUR also broadcasts a selection of BBC programs and such locally produced programs as The Connection, Here and Now, On Point, Only a Game, and Car Talk. WBUR has won more than 100 major awards for its news coverage, including several George Foster Peabody Awards, and was named the Associated Press News Station of the Year for 2004.