Sale of Providence alternative radio station means big changes for listeners

By John Krinjak


Thousands of alternative music fans tune into WBRU every day.

Now the station is being sold, and that has many listeners wondering what’s next.

For decades 95.5 BRU has been the go-to station for alternative music fans. 

"WBRU has been important for the local music scene here in terms of giving a diverse point of view in terms of music in general," said listener Grayson Davison of Johnston. 

Though it’s independently owned, the station is operated largely by Brown University students .

"For me it’s been really great to join a student organization that gets beyond Brown University itself," said Sam McKinney, who works in WBRU’s production department. 

"It is very definitely a workshop in media and communication and advertising and public speaking and technology and on and on," said WBRU spokesman Art Norwalk. 

But the station’s board made the decision to sell the FM signal and transition to an online format instead—no word yet on who the buyer is.

"I think it all depends on who buys it. It depends on the organization," said Davison. 

The plan going forward is to have two online streams–one alternative and one hip-hop.

Many at the station are optimistic about the shift. 

"It will open the opportunities for students of WBRU to something that is different from and greater than radio," said Norwalk. 

"It’s a great thing to hold a place in the hearts and minds of the Rhode Island Community, and I think the best way to do that going forward is through a digital platform," said McKinney.

© WLNE TV / ABC6 2017