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Long Island University To Divest Operations Of NPR-Affiliate WLIU 88.3 FM

Originally Posted: August 12, 2009

Southampton - As part of a continual University-wide review of its multifaceted educational and operating activities, officials of Long Island University has announced they are in the process of evaluating options with regard to its award-winning radio station, WLIU 88.3FM, including a direct sale to, or an operating agreement with, another public broadcasting station, community organization or other entity.

WLIU, based on the campus of Stony Brook Southampton, is the flagship station of Long Island University's Public Radio Network and is the only NPR-affiliate on Long Island. It serves a population of more than 400,000 on eastern Long Island, in southern Westchester County and Connecticut.

The station's programming is an eclectic mix of news, jazz, classical music and NPR favorites that include "Car Talk," "The Splendid Table," and "A Prairie Home Companion." WLIU's syndicated program, "The Song is You," features veteran broadcaster Bonnie Grice, whose celebrity guests such as k.d. lang and Billy Taylor; talk-show host Montel Williams; actor Cliff Robertson; singer and music revivalist Michael Feinstein; and actress Jackie Collins, discuss the importance of music in their lives and share their favorite tunes with the listening audience.

"WLIU offers innovative programming and provides an essential community service to Long Island, but, unfortunately, currently runs at a deficit that the University can no longer afford to subsidize," Robert Altholz, Long Island University's vice president for finance and treasurer, explained. The University's trustees have stipulated that the expenses associated with operating the station must be eliminated. Long Island University's use permit to house WLIU on the Stony Brook Southampton campus expires on Oct. 3, 2009.

WLILU offices at the Stony Brook Southampton campus of Long Island University. Images courtesy of WLIU

Options that are being considered include selling the station outright, establishing an operating agreement with an existing station or negotiating a sale to, or an operating agreement with, a local nonprofit/community group that would continue operating the station. "Several parties have indicated that they are interested in the options we currently have on the table," according Dr. Wally Smith, general manager of WLIU and director of the Long Island University Public Radio Network. "WLIU has become an indispensable part of the community on the East End, serving as a primary resource for local music, news, arts, cultural and entertainment programs, and garnering 18 local, national and regional journalism awards in 2009," Dr. Smith noted. "We are very hopeful that we will strike an agreement that will enable us to continue the robust local programming that distinguishes WLIU by pursuing options with other public radio stations in the region, or through the work we are now engaged in to build long-term support at the local level," he added.

According to Dr. Smith, "several prominent citizens on the East End have expressed support for the establishment of a new nonprofit entity that will be able to purchase the license of WLIU." This type of grassroots initiative has been successful in other communities around the country and would secure the future of Long Island's only locally owned and operated public radio station. The station offers a proven marketing vehicle for local advertisers and for New York City-based businesses and organizations that are interested in expanding their reach on the affluent East End and in southern Connecticut.

WLIU began broadcasting in 1974 as a 10-watt station at Southampton College, making the upgrade to 150 watts in 1979, when they took the call letters WPBX.
In 1993, the station signed on as an NPR member and moved to its current frequency at 88.3FM while increasing its signal to 25,000 watts. WPBX became WLIU in 2002 and began broadcasting in digital in 2005.

Long Island University has retained Public Radio Capital to advise it in exploring options for this transaction. Interested parties should contact Public Radio Capital at info@publicradiocapital.org or 720-493-4185.

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Guest (Sam Laganaro) from Poughkeepsie, NY says::
I guess it was only a matter of time, given the demise of Southampton College. As a former member of WPBX and a Southampton College alumnus ('85), I'm disheartened to hear that another fixture of LIU on the East End has or will be soon divested.
Nov 1, 2009 10:33 pm

Guest (Ed Vossen, former jazz disc jockey) from Stuart, Fl says::
Sorry to hear that the East End may lose WPBX or should I say WLIU. I was a part of the station from 1987 when the station was at 91.3 till I moved to Florida in 1992. The saddest part of leaving Southampton was leaving WPBX. I did a Sunday morning jazz show from 7:00-10:00 and a big band show on Thursday evenings. In those days the first person on the air would turn on the transmitter and start with a 10 minute pick up of the BBC World News. I had many calls from musicians and one recurring call that I remember well was a certain female vocalist that would call every week and request that one of her songs be played on air. When I joined the staff, I donated around 400 of my jazz albums. One that I wish I hadn't was the Riverside recording of Thelonious Monks Big band Concert held in Town Hall, New York City. That album has become a jazz classic. I still had the ticket stubs and when the album came out I taped the tickets to the front of the jacket. 2nd row orchestra , a mere $4.95. I wonder where that album is now? Those were the days. I occasionally listen to the station online but I guess that will end soon if it hasn't done so already
Aug 16, 2009 8:14 pm


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