Tuesday, October 15, 2013

NYC Radio: Pacifica Explores LMA For WBAI

Progressive radio station WBAI 99.5 FM, long teetering on the financial precipice, may resolve the issue by leasing itself to another operator, according to David Hinckley at The NY Daily News.

Steve Brown, a member of WBAI's local station board, revealed Monday that the Pacifica National Board (PNB), the governing body of WBAI and four other Pacifica stations, has started the process of seeking LMA bidders.

"Although WBAI might not be sold (yet)," said Brown, "it seems almost certain to be leased."

He circulated a memo from PNB member Cerene Roberts saying that the national board met Oct. 3 to ask that its executive director draw up a "Request for Proposals" - that is, a call for bids. The board met again Oct. 10 to order that the request be published. There is a Nov. 6 deadline for responses.

WBAI, which has been financially precarious for almost the whole six decades it has broadcast in New York, has recently slid to the edge of insolvency, laying off staffers and warning that it cannot pay its bills.

Some members of the PNB have reportedly advocated selling WBAI, which would relieve Pacifica of that ongoing debt crisis and provide capital for the other Pacifica stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Washington.

WBAI supporters in New York, on the station board and off, have largely resisted that idea.

The station's listenership has also dwindled the last few years. Despite having a 50,000-watt signal in the middle of the FM dial, WBAI draws an audience closer to that of college stations.

 That big signal and dial position could make WBAI attractive to potential buyers, or leasers.

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