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KCPW not out of the woods yet


KCPW is not out of the woods yet. Less than a week after the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency approved a $250,000 loan to bail out the struggling public radio station, the agency is now backing away from that commitment.--- Lawyers for the RDA say they did not have the authority to make the loan as they originally had thought, and the city is now pursuing other avenues to help the station make a balloon loan payment that is due on October 31 (for more background on this story, read"KCPW: Crunch Time," published Sept. 28, 2011, on CityWeekly.net).

Help may come in the form of a direct loan from the city. There is a precedent, as the city gave a loan to The Leonardo to keep it operating through a construction delay.

Councilman J.T. Martin, one of KCPW’s biggest supporters on the City Council, says that’s something the council will explore doing. But with the October 31 deadline looming, there is only one City Council meeting—on October 25—between now and then. “Any time we rush something, there’s always the potential for missing a detail," Martin said. "That’s what happened with the RDA. We didn’t get it right that time.”

Councilman Carlton Christensen says he does not regret voting in favor of the original loan, and says KCPW is a special circumstance. “If KCPW were not in one of our city facilities and an integral part of what we are trying to do downtown, we would have to think twice about the loan,” he said.

However, Christensen says any loan from the city would have to be a short-term fix: “I don’t anticipate us being part of their overall solution.”

But, Martin says, the bottom line for him is stepping up to save the station. “I know if KCPW goes dead, there will be more criticism as to why we didn’t help them," Martin said. "I believe in KCPW. It provides an important voice in the city that is under attack right now.”

Martin says the council often provides funding for nonprofits through Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). That is federal money. If the council decides to make the direct loan, Martin says he’s not sure where the money will come from.

If KCPW misses the October 31 payment deadline, the bank holding their loan will declare them in default and will accelerate a second $1.8 million loan. If that happens, the station will likely go out of business.

KCPW General Manager Ed Sweeney was not able to comment for this story.