In late 1993, it became clear that Upsala College, the
university that owned WFMU’s broadcast license and housed its studios, was on
the verge of implosion. Seeing Upsala’s financial demise as a golden
opportunity rather than the end of WFMU as he knew it, Station Manager Ken
Freedman offered to purchase the station’s license from a reluctant Upsala
As the college’s financial problems escalated to desperate, Ken
convinced them to sign an agreement stating that he would run the station on
their behalf and Auricle Communications, a non-profit group made up of DJs,
listeners, and volunteers, would manage the station.
Finally Ken received a call from Upsala’s Vice President of Finance, who asked him “How quickly could we sell the station to you?” “Right away,” was Ken’s reply, even though Auricle did not have enough money to do so. A generous listener-donor loaned us the funds, papers were signed, and a rush order was sent to the FCC. Upsala’s final payroll barely squeaked by on funds from Auricle’s purchase of WFMU, and the college declared bankruptcy 2 weeks later. June 22, 1994.
Illustration by Danny Hellman