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One slide describes the Amazon corporation as a model for KUOW, a public radio station. UW

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Last fall, when the University of Washington and KUOW announced a deal to acquire rival public radio station KPLU and convert it to an all-jazz station, listeners and the KPLU's own reporters were stunned. Now we know that was the plan along. Seattle Times:

Internally, they referred to it as “Fight Club”—a fitting nickname for plans to purchase a public radio station that officials at two universities kept secret from the public for weeks.

Top officials preparing details about an agreement for the University of Washington’s public radio station KUOW to buy Tacoma-based competitor KPLU from Pacific Lutheran University last year kept the proposed deal under wraps for as long as possible, emails and other records obtained by The Seattle Times show.

The first rule of Fight Club: You don't talk about Fight Club.

Except... they did talk about Fight Club, in e-mails subject to public disclosure laws. Nice work, Seattle Times. And eventually, they were forced to reveal the deal because the University of Washington is a public entity, whose governing regents are supposed to make major decisions in public.

Behind the scenes, officials at UW felt that Pacific Lutheran University was not being "forthright" with the public about the deal. "PLU wants cash," one document, labeled confidential, says.

In public, when PLU representatives showed up at the KPLU newsroom to announce the sale of the station, they insisted the move had nothing to do with the university's finances.

The same document reveals some doublespeak on the part of KUOW general manger Caryn Mathes. One slide cites tech giant Amazon as a model for the station: "Single company w/ diversified public product lines and BIG footprint (a la Amazon) can consolidate customer base/optimize revenue."

To the public, Mathes said there was no comparison between the acquisition and a corporate merger designed to improve profit margins:

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My hope would be that people would stop assuming, and applying, the commercial consolidation model to what this is. This is not that. Commercial stations consolidate so they can deliver more money to shareholders, they can run the services as cheaply as possible to generate more profit. That is not what this is about.

After Mathes gave that interview and a public outcry showed no signs of subsiding, UW President Ana Mari Cauce intervened, giving supporters of KPLU the chance to raise $7 million to make a competing bid to buy the station and keep it independent.

The Save KPLU campaign is on track to meet that target, having raised $5.9 million so far. Learn more and donate here.