Anchor in Waiting

Sportscaster Les Shapiro is rested and ready. But will TV take him back?

KUNC employees had no time to prepare for this bombshell; they were informed about the accord on February 8, just one day before the university's board of trustees was slated to rubber-stamp the pact. But they mobilized quickly, and by the next day's meeting, listeners had already pledged around $75,000 toward purchasing KUNC. Best asked boardmembers to grant the station sixty days to match or beat CPR's offer, and while the board didn't go for that, it was sufficiently shamed by its behavior to grant KUNC until month's end to try to achieve this goal.

Aiding immeasurably in this effort is Sutherland, a former Colorado State University professor who was held captive in Beirut from 1985 until 1991 by members of the Islamic Jihad. At press time, he was attending a Washington, D.C., hearing at which he may be given a monetary package as compensation for those lost years -- a move made possible by the passage last year of the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. Sutherland may collect a portion of the approximately $400 million in Iranian resources still lingering in the Federal Reserve from a 1979 assets freeze ordered by President Jimmy Carter. (In a 1989 article, the New York Times described this hoard as "cash paid for arms not delivered.") On February 9, Sutherland told the Greeley Tribune that if he receives a payout, he "will guarantee a loan or give a significant amount of money to help KUNC buy its freedom" -- a concept he knows something about.

Whether he'll get his greenbacks in time is another question: Terry Anderson, a onetime hostage awarded $341 million by a jury, agreed to accept $41 million of that total and drop his claim to the rest months ago, but the press has not yet reported that he's taken delivery of the money. For that reason, KUNC's Best cautions against complacency. But there are hopeful signs. Best says several bankers have contacted him to offer their services, and by Tuesday, about $150,000 had been pledged even though the university hasn't allowed the station to solicit donations over the air.

Once and future sportscaster Les Shapiro.
Susan Goldstein
Once and future sportscaster Les Shapiro.

Where does that leave CPR? Spokesman Sean Nethery declines comment, and for good reason. Getting into a bidding war with a former hostage is a no-win situation.

The Daily on the block: Boulder's Colorado Daily has been owned entirely by its employees, past and present, since breaking away from the University of Colorado during the '70s. But that's likely to change on February 15, when a bankruptcy judge is expected to approve its sale to an as-yet-unidentified buyer for a reported $2.38 million, or a bit more than the paper's current debts, estimated at just under $2.1 million. Shareholders could have expressed their dismay over this transaction at a February 5 meeting, but Daily publisher Russell Puls says they voted overwhelmingly in its favor -- perhaps because the deal was not contingent upon their approval.

Whatever the ruling, none of the shareholders will be getting much richer, and some fear the readers of Boulder will wind up poorer in the bargain.

This new economy is a bitch.

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