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Boston University to Sell WRNI

Rhode Island's public radio station is about become locally owned.

Boston University is selling WRNI to a group of long time supporters.

The deal with the group, known as "Rhode Island Public Radio" ends a tumultuous period for WRNI.

Boston University is selling WRNI for $2 million, roughly the same amount it paid for the station nine years ago.

At the same time, the Rhode Island Public Radio board is borrowing $2.6 million from the Rhode Island Foundation to buy an FM station in Narragansett. The new signal will expand WRNI's reach and the number of possible contributors by at least 25 percent.

In 2004, the first time Boston University and it's flagship station WBUR announced that WRNI was for sale, supporters feared it would be sold to a commercial group.

They persuaded state legislators to pass a law that makes a sale to anything but another public radio entity difficult.

Attorney General Patrick Lynch says he's guardedly optimistic that this deal complies with the law.

Lynch says he has already concluded that Boston University did not drain money from WRNI.

In the end, BU will not get back all of it's $3.6 million investment in WRNI.

WBUR will continue to provide programming as well as engineering and other support services to WRNI for five years. WRNI General Manager Joe O'Connor, who brokered the deal between BU and Rhode Island Public Radio, says he is working on a number of new local programs including a weekly political hour, and a variety show.

O'Connor cautions that it will take time and money to put these on the air. The change of ownership and acquisitions are expected to be complete and clear regulatory approvals sometime this summer.

This program aired on March 22, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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