The long-awaited Special Master's Report has arrived in the WCAL case that pitted St. Olaf College against supporters of the erstwhile classical music station, which was sold to MPR and converted to The Current. That case, you may recall, was the subject of a City Pages article last year.
The report amounts to a significant victory for the station's advocates. The judge in the Rice County case will use the report as a guide in determining how to rule, and is not bound by its findings. A hearing is expected to be scheduled shortly.
Click through for a nutshell of the report...
--Most fundamentally, it declares that the former radio station was a charitable trust, representing a vindication of Save WCAL's position and a repudiation of St. Olaf's stance.
--It finds that $5 million in listener donations--about half the amount the school received in exchange for selling the station to MPR--should to be set aside for "core WCAL activities," although it is not clear what form these activities would take or who would administer them.
--The report does not list the station's license as part of the charitable trust, explaining that "it is impossible to discern from the record what assets were purchased with which funds or, most likely, combination of funds."
SaveWCAL President Ruth Sylte welcomed the report as a big step forward in her organization's efforts to get St. Olaf to admit it made a mistake in selling the station and to set about recreating it in some form.
“It is a very good day for supporters of public radio and thousands of SaveWCAL supporters!” Sylte said in a statement. “The report confirms that listener donations and support do matter.”