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WBAI Says Its Perch on Empire Is at Risk

Launches emergency campaign for a half million dollars

Pacifica station WBAI(FM) says it is at risk of having to shut down its transmitter site on the Empire State Building. It says it “fell drastically behind” on its rent at Empire in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and now has launched a campaign hoping to raise $500,000.

“If sufficient funds are not raised in time, the station will lose its transmitter and may never go back on the air in New York City again,” it said in a statement. “WBAI 99.5 FM was already struggling with escalating rent costs and, like most non-profits, with declining revenue as a result of the economic downturn of 2008. Hurricane Sandy forced WBAI from its broadcast facilities in lower Manhattan.”

It said staff and volunteers rushed to move the station from that location but now is short of money.

Interim Executive Director Summer Reese was quoted in the statement: “The future of WBAI is actually bright, so long as we are able to overcome the present crisis. We are actively negotiating the purchase of a building, which will give us a permanent home that we own and significantly reduce our fixed costs on an ongoing basis.” But first, she said, it needs to save its transmitter site.

The station occupies prime FM spectrum at 99.5 MHz in New York and is a key component of the Pacifica Foundation. It promotes alternative, listener-supported content and its lack of underwriting.

Reese added that saving the station “is important not just to public radio listeners in the tri-state area, but to the integrity of a free society which requires a free press and alternatives to mainstream corporate media outlets.”


WBAI Is the Story (station audio story)