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Oct 13, 2009 6:05 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Local supporters win bid for WLIU 88.3 FM

Oct 13, 2009 6:05 PM

Supporters and fans of WLIU 88.3FM had a lot to celebrate last weekend.

Peconic Public Broadcasting Inc., the quickly assembled corporation dedicated to preserving the local radio station, got word Friday that it had won in the bidding to purchase WLIU’s licenses and equipment from Long Island University. A letter of intent to sell the license to Peconic Public Broadcasting was signed at 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 8, according to Porter Bibb, one of the founding members of Peconic Public Broadcasting and its lead negotiator.

The purchase will cost the new non-profit about $2.4 million.

The sale effectively ensures that, although the station is slated to move from its current base in Chancellors Hall on the Stony Brook Southampton campus to Wainscott Studios on Industrial Road in Wainscott, WLIU will remain on the South Fork and will continue to be operated by the management and staff its listeners and supporters have come to closely associate with it, chief among them Station Manager Wally Smith.

Mr. Smith has said that Peconic has already begun working with Wainscott Studios on contracts and physical layouts for the radio station so the transition can happen as soon as the sale is completed. Meanwhile, the station’s staff has been making plans to execute the move without interrupting broadcasting.

Stony Brook Southampton has agreed to allow the station’s antenna, which is affixed to the campus tower, to stay put a little while longer while Peconic Public Broadcasting makes arrangements to move it, possibly to an existing tower on Great Hill Road in Southampton.

Next up for Peconic Public Broadcasting, which was founded by Mr. Bibb, Mr. Smith and Michael Rosenberg about three days after the university announced plans to sell the station, is a slew of administrative work. While the three founders are serving as “placeholders,” a full and permanent board of directors must be seated and the non-profit’s incorporation must be completed, something officials expect to be done in the next few weeks.

Because the state will consider Peconic Public Broadcasting an educational non-profit business, the state’s Board of Regents has to sign off on its incorporation. Thankfully, Mr. Bibb said, one of the members of the Board of Regents is a former chairman of LIU’s board of trustees and a member of Support Public Radio on the East End, or SPREE, and he has assured Peconic that the application will be at the top of the Regents’ agenda when the panel meets on Monday, October 19.

Also, Peconic must establish financial accounts, and all funds, mostly donated by local supporters, have to be secured and transferred to make the purchase. The money for the bid and the start-up of the new station has been promised by a number of private supporters, though Mr. Smith has refused to identify any of the financial backers by name.

Details of the Deal

A press release issued Friday morning by Paola Curcio-Clinemen, associate vice president for marketing and public relations at Long Island University, declared that “Peconic’s bid was the best offer for the license.” The final bid package included:

An $850,000 payment in cash at closing.

A pledge to assume the $120,000 estimated cost for vacating the station at Stony Brook Southampton and relocating to a new studio and a promise to reimburse Long Island University for any out-of-pocket moving expenses previously incurred.

Reimbursement of the $25,000 cost of the construction permit, evaluation, and engineering fees needed to secure a new antenna location.

Repayment of an estimated $376,000 to cover the cost of maintaining the station from the date the letter of intention was signed until closing.

A pledge to cover the estimated $30,000 cost to Long Island University for removing the existing WLIU antenna from the tower on Stony Brook Southampton campus, in compliance with Stony Brook’s announced intention to dismantle the tower and remove it from the campus grounds at the earliest possible date.

A three-year Licensed Management Agreement to provide programming and engineering services to WCWP, Long Island University’s student radio station at its C.W. Post campus, that will include enabling WCWP to develop local student- and faculty-based programming, which will permit Long Island University to retain a significant broadcast asset with minimal operating cost. The agreement has an estimated value of $1 million.

Covering the estimated $24,000 cost of settling an outstanding case involving an FCC violation. Information about the violation was not available.

The university’s press release continued: “We are pleased to have received the highest bid from an organization that has as its goal the continuation of local community involvement in public radio.”

One of the highlights of the bid package is the agreement that will have Mr. Smith and company managing, engineering and providing programming to WCWP for the next three years. According to Mr. Bibb, the university didn’t want to sell the license to that station and even if it did, it would likely wait for the market to improve.

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Great news for the residents on the East End of Long Island.
By Bob Whyte (48), Hampton Bays on Oct 9, 09 1:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
I'm so glad we saved the station. I listen to it all day every day. Can't imagine not. Don't want to. Don't have to! Yahoo! I want to volunteer at the
new incarnation. Wally, Bonnie, Jamie, Nancy, ---I am thrilled that
you'll continue to be in my ears.
By carolgilbert2 (1), Southampton on Oct 9, 09 4:10 PM
Great News! Congratulations to everyone involved!
By Robert I Ross (250), Hampton Bays on Oct 9, 09 7:47 PM
It is inspiring to see something great happen quickly. This long health care debate is killing me.
By kmarie (1), Southampton on Oct 16, 09 10:55 AM