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Sep 1, 2010 11:46 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Lights still on as radio station wins short reprieve

Sep 1, 2010 11:46 AM

After a last-minute appeal by U.S. Representative Tim Bishop, Long Island University officials gave
public radio upstart Peconic Public Broadcasting a 72-hour extension to come up with the $637,000 it owes on a contract to purchase its broadcast licenses and equipment from the university.

With less than an hour to go before the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline, the university released a brief statement saying the deadline would be extended until Friday, September 3, at 5 p.m.

If the university does not receive the money by that time, according to the statement, the former WLIU 88.3 FM licenses and equipment will be put back up for sale. Several other public radio companies are interested in purchasing the licenses, the university said in the statement.

Peconic Public Broadcasting was formed by former employees of WLIU in hopes of taking over the management of the station when the university said it was going to sell off its interest for financial reasons. The group bid more then $800,000 for the licenses and equipment, beating out two other organizations that entered bids with the university.

On Wednesday, station manager and Peconic Public Broadcasting head Wally Smith issued a statement on behalf of the station’s board of directors saying that the station still does not have the money to complete the purchase but has made headway in recent days.

On Tuesday, he said, the station received a $50,000 grant from the Open Society Institute, which was founded by billionaire philanthropist—and part-time Southampton Village resident—George Soros.

He also said that Peconic Public Broadcasting has reached an agreement with a local bank to finance the purchase should it not be able to raise all the money from private donations. He would not identify the bank.

In recent weeks, Mr. Smith has acknowledged that the station, which had already received a 60-day extension from the university, did not actually have the money needed to complete the purchase, though it did have pledges from supporters amounting to just over $100,000, contingent on the rest being raised from other sources. Last week, Mr. Smith said a bank had agreed to finance the deal if the station could raise $300,000.

This week, investment banker Len Conway, who orchestrated a private fund-raising rescue of the Westhampton Performing Arts Center, confirmed that he has been working with the radio station to drum up private funding sources. Mr. Conway would not comment on the prospects of raising the needed money, other than to say, “It’s still doable.”

Mr. Conway and the station may have run out of time had it not been for the last-minute intervention of Mr. Bishop. On Tuesday, the Southampton Village congressman, who worked at the Southampton College campus of Long Island University for 29 years, played down his role but acknowledged that he and other supporters had lobbied the university for a second extension of the deadline.

“There were a bunch of us making the case, and I think the university responded modestly—and we appreciate their response,” Mr. Bishop said. “Whether it will have the desired result is hard to say right now.”

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Small change to some, maybe, but once more Tim Bishop is out there taking care of business, doing what needs to be done in the real everyday world.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Sep 1, 10 1:46 PM
Please put an end to this saga. The stations days are over. If the public wanted it to stay on the air the funds would be there. In these economic times there is no public support-that's reality.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Sep 1, 10 4:23 PM
2 members liked this comment
More meaningless pandering by a self-serving politician. Thiele is probably busy trying to get it extended another 15 minutes.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Sep 2, 10 6:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Whaddaya know, Bishop brings in Soros for a measily $50k and a few weeks. At least they mentioned that it won't be effective in the long run.
By dylan32 (64), east hampton on Sep 4, 10 9:36 AM
Looks like the last throes of a serpent under St. Patrick's staff...
Sep 6, 10 11:43 PM appended by Mr. Z
Just give it back to the kids, they always did a better job running the place anyway...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Sep 6, 10 11:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
Why doesn't FX pay for it. He's the ex-provost's sugar daddy?
By Sparkibew (28), southampton on Sep 9, 10 6:07 PM