Spring Hill College recently announced that it will sell public radio’s WHIL-FM 91.3 to the University Of Alabama for $1.1 million. The college cites “limited resources” during “these challenging economic times” as the reason for the sale in its official statement by president Richard Salmi.
The terms of the sale, overseen by the Federal Communications Commission, allow the university to absorb WHIL, a classical music and NPR news station based in Mobile, AL, into its Alabama Public Radio network. No current WHIL employees will be retained after the sale closes in June, according to WHIL’s general manager, Mario Mazza.
The station’s official announcement says that “the basic format of the station will remain intact.” But Mazza tells CMJ that Alabama Public Radio will use WHIL as a 100,000-watt “repeater” for programming originating in Tuscaloosa, where the university is based, which could lessen the local appeal of WHIL’s content.
In addition to the job loss of WHIL’s current employees, the transition will result in the shuttering of a Radio Reading Service, which broadcast readings of current newspapers for the benefit of the blind and had operated on the WHIL’s subcarrier for 23 years. The station had celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2009.