WBRU programming could return to airwaves on low-power FM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A new low-power FM station in Providence is set to assume the WBRU call letters and could broadcast the alt-rock station’s programming in the future.

The group Brown Student and Community Radio (BSR) applied for a permit to have a new Low Power FM (LPFM) station on 101.1 FM, and was granted permission to construct the station in 2015, FCC filings show. BSR is a separate group from Brown Broadcasting Service Inc., the nonprofit entity that owns WBRU.

Willem Helmet Pickleman, the acting station manager for BSR, said the group hopes to construct the station by the end of the calendar year. The low-power signal would not be available statewide, but would cover most of Providence, according to Pickleman.

Pickleman told Eyewitness News that 101.1 LPFM, currently WPVD-LP, will take over the WBRU call letters as of Sept. 1. The station is also likely to take on some of WBRU’s programming.

“Some broadcasters who have been with ‘BRU and are passionate about radio have approached us expressing interest in continuing their programming on this new station,” Pickleman said in an email. “This has been met with open arms; BSR is willing to acquire new content in order to supplement its own programs and fill out a 24-hour broadcast day.”

No formal agreement has yet been made between WBRU and BSR, but a spokesman for WBRU confirmed it’s possible that the alt-rock station’s programming will return to the FM airwaves on the 101.1 signal.

The news comes as WBRU plans to end its FM programming on 95.5 and move solely to online streaming at the end of the day Thursday. The 95.5 FM signal was sold for $5.63 million to Educational Media Foundation (EMF), a California-based nonprofit that broadcasts Christian adult-contemporary music.

Pickleman said he’s unsure exactly when BSR will start broadcasting on 101.1, but hopes everything will be in place by early 2018.

This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Willem Helmet Pickleman’s name.