1984: Joe Strummer with WRVU DJs.

Update: The VSC and Nashville Public Radio announced in a press release that WRVU’s license was sold today to WPLN, Nashville’s NPR affiliate, for $3,350,000. The sale replaces WRVU’s spot on FM radio with WFCL, a new classical station under Nashville Public Radio’s control. Though WRVU will continue broadcasting online, it will exist solely in that format until fall 2011, when it will gain control of WPLN’s HD3 channel according to the deal’s terms. 91.1 FM is scheduled to begin broadcasting WFCL’s programming at midnight CDT.

Vanderbilt University’s WRVU might be on the verge of losing a protracted battle to save its frequency.

A search of the FCC’s database shows that Vanderbilt’s broadcasting license—91.1 FM Nashville, registered to Vanderbilt Student Communications Inc. (VSC)—is now assigned to the call letters WFCL. The change was made on June 1 and suggests that WRVU’s license may have been sold by the VSC. 91.1 FM Nashville was still broadcasting WRVU’s signal at press time, six days after the call letter change was enacted.

“This is all news to me,” Sharon Scott, interim president of support organization WRVU Friends And Family, said to CMJ of the registration change. “We haven’t heard a thing about this until now.” VSC president Chris Carroll said he was waiting to hear from an attorney that handled the FCC filings and declined to comment otherwise.

The VSC announced last September that it was “exploring the migration of radio station WRVU to
exclusively online programming and the sale of its broadcast license.” Scott said previously that the VSC had reached “no final decision” on the sale at the end of its final meeting of the academic year in April, but the current group of board members would still be able to vote via email until July 1.

WRVU alumni, staff members and supporters have been vocally opposed to a sale of its broadcasting license. The Pledge Nothing campaign has urged Vanderbilt donors to pledge lengthy suspensions of donations to the university until plans to sell the license are abandoned. Most recently, WRVU general manager Robert Ackley pledged to eschew donating for eight years. Alumni speaking out in opposition include CNN anchor Richard Quest and Facebook’s vice president of technology, Jeff Rothschild, both former managers at WRVU. Public Enemy’s Chuck D also came out publicly to support WRVU during Record Store Day, joining artists such as 10,000 Maniacs and Jason And The Scorchers.

If WRVU loses its license, the station will be removed from terrestrial radio and forced into an online-only format. Online-only stations have additional operating costs to consider for streaming royalties and bandwidth, as well as decreased audience reach.