Public Radio Capital's mission is to strengthen and expand noncommercial media to provide more in-depth information, unbiased news, diverse music and cultural programming nationwide. In 2007, PRC launched the Public Radio Fund to benefit public radio organizations in need of short-term capital for asset-based projects. Loans from the Public Radio Fund may be used for station acquisitions, transmitters and production facilities to increase and diversify public radio in communities across the country.
Public broadcasters must move aggressively in buying stations and keep their production facilities current, and that requires significant debt capital. The Public Radio Fund makes loans in four categories:
- Loans for Station Acquisition are a critical piece to public radio's future. North Texas Public Broadcasting (KERA) is using a Public Radio Fund acquisition loan as part of a financing package to realize an $18 million new frequency acquisition. A new music format will complement KERA's news and information station and reach a population of more than 5 million in the Dallas Fort Worth area, helping to bring a younger and more diverse audience into the public radio fold.
- Loans may fund a Debt Reserve Pool for Acquisition of FCC Licenses. The Fund's first loan helped Wasatch Public Media acquire KCPW-FM, a primary source of independent news and analysis in Salt Lake City, Utah.
- Short Term Loans are available for up to two years to help finance early stage growth while expanding audiences assure that long term revenue sources are being developed.
- Bridge Loans of up to one year provide financing in anticipation of capital campaign commitments or other funding strategies yet to be realized.
PRC's clients are visionary public broadcasting leaders in both large and small markets in every region of the country, and represent a diverse range of systems from multiple-station operations such as Minnesota Public Radio and Puget Sound Public Radio, organizations that reach millions of listeners, to smaller systems such as Laytonville, California's Radio Bilingue and Vermont Public Radio, each of which cover much smaller populations. PRC's clients are not-for-profit public broadcasting licensees that are either separate 501(c)3 organizations governed by a board of directors or not-for-profit institutional licensees such as universities, colleges or school districts.
38 station projects increased public radio listening by 15 percent between spring 2001 and spring 2008, a period in which public radio added some 4 million listeners. Thirty-one PRC transactions helped public radio stations expand their signal reach by adding a new signal or increasing transmission power to reach more people or differentiate their services, such as adding a new channel to program news exclusively. PRC work has also helped preserve seven public radio stations on noncommercial frequencies which would otherwise have been sold to religious broadcasters.
PRC represented KERA, public television and radio for North Texas, in the 2009 acquisition of 91.7 FM and the Public Radio Fund is an important part of the financing mix. PRC served as the broker and financial advisor for the acquisition, which will increase public media options for more than 5 million residents of the Dallas Fort Worth area. Full Story