KPCW scraps efforts to expand
Community Wireless of Park City will not pursue noncommercial radio licenses in six Utah cities even though KPCW-FM founder Blair Feulner wanted the station to apply for the new permits.
"We’re not interested in building empires. We’re interested in nurturing KPCW," Community Wireless spokesman Joe Wrona said. "We’re changing the direction, for so long Community Wireless was about empire building and that is not where this board is at."
KPCW-parent Community Wireless pursued permits in Richfield, Price, Moab, Cedar City, Nephi and Coalville, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
"Last fall [Feulner] attempted to file applications for several permits to construct new noncommercial radio stations in various locations around the state," Wrona said in a telephone interview Monday. "It appears that Mr. Feulner had been working on the applications and researching the target locations for those applications for several months, unbeknownst to the board of trustees He elected to inform the board of what he was doing three days before the application deadline."
Feulner told Community Wireless trustees about the FCC applications Oct. 16, 2007, said Wrona, who was not a KPCW trustee at the time.
"To the current board it just seemed contradictory to be spending money and time and energy on trying to capture rights to build radio stations in places like Richfield and Price and Moab and Cedar City and Nephi," Wrona said. "It’s inconsistent with our decision to refocus on Park City, moreover, contrary to the mission statement of Community Wireless, which is to develop and operate a radio station here in Park City."
Feulner and his attorney Joe Tesch declined to comment when reached this week.
Meanwhile, KUER-FM General Manager John Greene said he "can understand it from both sides."
The window last year to apply for new FCC construction permits was the first opportunity for station owners to expand in several years, said Greene, who operates the public radio station at University of Utah.
"If you’re management, do it now or never and from [Feulner’s] perspective, it’s understandable," Greene explained.
Community Wireless is the nonprofit Feulner helped form to start KPCW almost three decades ago.
KPCW board members agreed this summer to abandon any effort to obtain new licenses, Wrona said.
"We feel it is important to refocus our resources, attention and energy on KPCW, the Park City station," Wrona said. "Most of these board members weren’t around then, that was the old board doing things and this is the new way of doing things."
New applications would have conflicted with the station’s mission, he said about the National Public Radio affiliate in Park City.
Feulner was allowed free reign at KPCW for too long by board members he handpicked, Wrona charged.
"We’re putting a halt to trying to acquire rights in other areas and we are recommitting ourselves to KPCW, which is what our Park City listeners want," Wrona said.
Feulner did not return to the airwaves after announcing he would take a six-week sabbatical in July.
He resigned from the station July 15, Wrona said.
Feulner had a tumultuous year in which Community Wireless was forced to sell frequencies it owned in Salt Lake City. He generated headlines when his past six-figure salary at Community Wireless was compared with those who oversee larger public radio stations and earn less.
Feulner stepped down from his post as president of Community Wireless in March, Wrona said.
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