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Salt Lake City Council saves public radio station with a loan

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 News) - It's your money and even in these hard times City leaders are finding unusual ways to spend it, like a $250,000 loan to keep a radio station on the air.
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 News) - It's your money and even in these hard times City leaders are finding unusual ways to spend it, like a $250,000 loan to keep a radio station on the air.

KCPW would default on a loan without the help.  A few major donors promised $230,000 in pledges, but they were never paid.

KCPW is the only public radio station to focus only on Salt Lake County.  It has five people in the newsroom and two reporters who reach a potential 1,000,000 listeners.

Its coverage would have ended without a loan from Salt Lake City, one of the very groups it covers.

KCPW President Ed Sweeny says his relationship with the City is strictly business.  "I think it comes down to the integrity of the news director," said KCPW listener Howard Brown.

ABC 4 talked with listeners about the loan. "My honest opinion is-- I'm torn a little bit, but I do support KCPW.  I do support them financially," said Brown.

Salt Lake City Councilman Luke Garrott says the City provided the loan because KCPW raises property values by increasing the quality of life.

It's broadcasts performances of local artists and is a source of free information to the public.

"I actually don't think I mind," said Kristi Schwerin.

"I think it's a great idea.  I think public radio is very important," said Jennifer Nasman.

"As a loan that's to be paid back with interest.  I personally see nothing wrong with that," said Greta DeJong.

But shouldn't public radio be publicly funded by the good will of the listeners and not a City responsible for sidewalk and road repairs?

"I would hope that it wouldn't result in a loss of perhaps more needed funding," said Dave Johnson.

KCPW expects to pay the loan back with five percent interest, but it's a risk to Salt Lake City.

KCPW is an NPR station broadcasting on 88.3 FM and 105.3 FM.




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