carpetman, hamptons, flooring

Business Center

Feb 23, 2010 6:11 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Station makes $150k downpayment on WLIU radio

Feb 23, 2010 6:11 PM

Long Island University announced this week that it has inked an agreement with Peconic Public Broadcasting for the purchase of the only locally based public radio station, WLIU 88.3FM, and now Peconic is set to begin moving the station’s broadcasting studios from the Stony Brook Southampton campus—and possibly to the landmark former Rogers Memorial Library building in the center of Southampton Village—in the next few days.

The signing of the contract of sale is an all-important but not final step in the months-long effort by staff and supporters of WLIU to save the station and its programming format, and to keep its broadcasts in and about the East End community. Peconic, a non-profit corporation founded last summer by WLIU supporters specifically to purchase the station, still must complete the sale.

The group made an initial $158,000 down payment on the $850,000 sale price on Monday morning. The balance must be paid by June 30, when the sale will close, according to the contract.

“We are pleased that Peconic Public Broadcasting was able to move ahead with the purchase of the station,” LIU President David J. Steinberg was quoted as saying in the announcement. “This allows the transformative power of public radio to continue to thrive on Long Island’s East End, providing a critical public service and enlightening listening audiences through innovative news and cultural programming.”

Peconic Public Broadcasting has not decided what the new station will be called or what its call sign will be. A change will not take effect until the sale is closed.

Whatever it is, the new station will be moving to a new home almost immediately. Station manager Wally Smith told supporters in an e-mail this week that the station has given up on its hopes of remaining in Chancellors Hall on the Stony Brook Southampton college campus and will likely begin moving its operations to the former Rogers Memorial Library on Jobs Lane in Southampton Village.

On Tuesday, even as WLIU employees were asking friends and 
members of the community to volunteer time to help with the relocation, Mr. Smith said the move to the library had not been finalized but that a decision one way or the other would come by the end of the week so a move could begin.

LIU’s lease on the station’s oceanview broadcasting studios is up at the end of March, and the studios must be emptied of all the broadcasting equipment by then. The space is slated to become classrooms and offices for Stony Brook Southampton’s popular creative writing graduate program. The station was initially supposed to be gone in October, but an extension was negotiated by local state legislators.

The former library building is now owned by the neighboring Parrish Art Museum. Mr. Smith said that he has had talks with Parrish leaders about the possibility of the station, which focuses much of its programming on local cultural events, constructing studios in the museum’s sprawling new building planned for Water Mill and slated to open in 2012. Such a partnership, he noted, would be dependent on the station being able to afford the construction of a studio that fit architecturally and aesthetically into the new museum building.

In the short term, the station will operate out of what Mr. Smith called a “tent city-style” studio until its long-term plans are more concrete. Mr. Smith said the move should not substantially affect programming other than possibly requiring that the station broadcast syndicated programming for a day, or even just a few hours when the critical equipment is transferred.

In his note to supporters, Mr. Smith acknowledged that there have been doubts and concerns raised about the viability of the purchase during the long process of the negotiations with the university since Peconic won a bidding war for the station’s license in October. He said he hoped the signing of the contract would allay some of those fears, and that the fund-raising drive to come would quiet the rest.

“The community asked us to save this station, and we hope that they are going to help us do that now,” Mr. Smith said. “We feel very confident about it.”

The signing of the contract gives Peconic the legitimacy it has lacked thus far, according to Porter Bibb, the media investor who led the negotiations with LIU. That legitimacy will be needed to mount an aggressive capital campaign to raise the additional money it needs to complete the purchase in June. The station has appointed a new management team, headed by Mr. Bibb and acting Chief Financial Officers Paula Wolfe and Christian Mittweg, to lead the fund-raising effort.

Mr. Smith said the station has about $150,000 in guaranteed grants in hand that it can use to complete the purchase, leaving some $550,000 that must be raised to complete the purchase. He said the station has a road map for its fund-raising ready.

“We know the number of donors we need, we have a list of candidates that we will approach and at what level of support we will need them to help us,” he said. “We believe, now that we’ve signed the agreement, it gives us an asset in hand to bring to people to say, ‘We just need the money and it’s done.’ Where, before, we were just hypothesizing.”

1  |  2  >>  

You've read 1 of 7 free articles this month.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Congratulations to the Peconic Public Broadcasting folks on this important step. Remember, it's never easy! Hang in there!
By Robert I Ross (250), Hampton Bays on Feb 22, 10 8:29 PM
Bravo. Long Island needs WLIU. Especially Ed German. Best jazz show in the USA.
By nellie (451), sag harbor on Feb 22, 10 9:41 PM
By SusieD (115), Southampton on Feb 23, 10 8:10 AM
WPKN should be a model for public broadcasting on the east end. You need to
have some programming for everyone. Wally and Bonnie might come up with the loot for the purchase, but the fact that they haven't shows you that it hasn't really been a public affair all along.
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on Feb 23, 10 12:29 PM
Glad the station will be continuing, but will moving to the former library building mean they will need to put up an enormous antena at a landmarked building? In the heart of the village? Hope not. There are protective covenants on that building.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Feb 27, 10 1:18 PM