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Antioch College

Neenah Ellis, general manager of WYSO, and Tom Manley, president of Antioch College, spoke recently about the coming change of the relationship between the college and the radio station started by Antioch students in 1958. WYSO will become an independent nonprofit. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

WYSO to separate from Antioch

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Local radio station 91.3 FM-WYSO will no longer be owned by Antioch College, according to college and station leaders this week.

The 61-year-old radio station started by Antioch students will soon become an independent nonprofit governed by its own board of trustees.

Antioch plans to assign its Federal Communications Commission license to the new nonprofit in exchange for $3.5 million, a sum Antioch considers as “partial reimbursement” for its decades of investment in the station.

This week, Antioch College President Tom Manley said the move allows both groups to focus on their respective missions while they continue to collaborate.

“Increasingly the college needs to look at being a college,” Manley said.

“Parts of the organization, like WYSO, that are ready to fly on their own, we felt like they ought to be given the opportunity to do that,” he added. “We need to focus on Antioch ­College.”

Meanwhile, independence will aid WYSO’s fundraising efforts and help it continue to grow and invest in community offerings, according to WYSO General Manager Neenah Ellis.

“We’re going to expand our community offerings and expand that kind of engagement with our listeners,” Ellis said of the station’s immediate plans. There are other perks of independence, Ellis said.

“We will have the autonomy to move much more quickly to bring on people. We will be our own bosses,” she said.

WYSO has already raised $3,415,000 toward the $3.5 million sum. The pledges include $2 million from Charles D. Berry of Dayton, whose grandfather started the Yellow Pages phone directory, along with 17 other undisclosed donors. The two parties hope to close at the end of March.

Ellis added that WYSO plans to stay in its current offices and studios in the Charles F. Kettering building and will be negotiating a lease agreement with Antioch to do so. Ellis said WYSO has no intention of leaving the village or the Antioch campus, which she said is “part of our legacy, our history and our DNA.”

“We have no reason to leave Yellow Springs. This is our home, these are our roots. We can do what we do from here,” Ellis said.

Even though its reach is regional, Ellis sees WYSO staying local.

“We have a regional identity, but I think it’s a beautiful story that we are in a small town,” she said. “People like coming to Yellow Springs.”

Started in 1958 as a student and faculty station with a 10-watt transmitter atop the student union, WYSO has grown to become the flagship NPR affiliate in the Miami Valley, reaching a potential audience of more than one million people.

Read the Jan. 31 issue of the News for the full story.

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