In July 2006 the station put the consulting contract out for bid for a third time and awarded the work to Florida-based consultant Michael Ostroff, who charges the station a monthly fee of $19,500 — not including expenses. Billing records show that in the months and weeks prior to Ostroff winning the bid, Wente approved at least three separate contracts, paying his firm $22,500 to review the capital campaign.

Reached by phone, Ostroff describes his workings with KWMU as a "typical consulting relationship" and maintains that the capital campaign is going well. "I can tell you that we are extremely pleased with the community's response in supporting KWMU and the kind of programming it offers," says Ostroff. "We couldn't be happier with the kind of results that the campaign has delivered since we've been involved."

The consultant says there's no deadline for the fundraising to end, and KWMU's most recent projections don't have the building slated for completion until sometime in 2010. In light of the university's review of the station, some KWMU staffers now wonder if Wente will be around for the ribbon-cutting.

KWMU's general manager, Patty Wente.
bill greenblatt/UPI
KWMU's general manager, Patty Wente.
Patty Wente with Diane Rehm: "So Diane, how's your sex life?"
carla falasco
Patty Wente with Diane Rehm: "So Diane, how's your sex life?"

UMSL's Samples, meanwhile, says it's premature to speculate on the outcome of the investigation. And if history is any precedent, it's a good bet Wente will remain at KWMU for a long time to come.

"You create and maintain a station for the listeners, not for the employees," he says. "And Patty has created a quality product. The university is proud of that."

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