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SUNY Stony Brook Southampton Holds Rally In Support Of WLIU-FM

Originally Posted: September 09, 2009

Aaron Boyd

  |   3 Comments · Print Article

Station Manager Dr. Wally Smith thanked the university for their years of support and vowed to keep local content on the airwaves. Photos by Aaron Boyd

Southampton - Politicians from across the South Fork stood outside the studio of WLIU-FM 88.3 on the SUNY Stonybrook Southampton Campus to show their support for the station's efforts to survive the university's divestment.

The rally was led by New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele (R-Sag Harbor) and State Senator Ken LaValle (R-1), who will be ushering the station's efforts to create a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation through the State Education Department and Board of Regents, which will have to approve the entity's creation. That process "generally takes about four or five months," Thiele explained, however "we don't have four or five months." LaValle, who is the ranking Republican member of the Senate's Education Committee (formerly the chairman), "will use the clout that I have in high education to make sure this happens in a timely manner," he assured.

An overwhelming number of local officials attended the Wednesday morning press conference to join in support of WLIU's efforts to maintain public radio on the East End.

Along with the blessing of state agencies, the new non-profit will need to be tax-exempt as well, which means filing the proper applications with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Former Sag Harbor Mayor Gregory Ferraris, who is a certified accountant, has agreed to donate his services for the application process pro-bono to ensure everything goes smoothly, according to Thiele.

Thiele lauded WLIU as a bastion of entertainment, culture and education on the East End, however "this station goes much deeper than that, it's part of our community fabric."

"We are going to be successful," LaValle asserted confidently, "We're all going to say, 'Yes we can, yes we can, yes we can.'"

Media producer and publisher Porter Bibb, who has been at the head of the station's efforts to transfer control over to a community non-profit, echoed LaValle's use of Obama's campaign slogan. "There's been such an unbelievable outpouring of support, even from WLIU's biggest competitors," he stated, "Not just, 'Yes we can,' it's 'Yes we will.'" According to Bibb, they are putting together a bid to purchase the station at "a full and fair price," maintaining that approximately $3 million would be sufficient to keep the station afloat. If successful, the new station's call letters would be WPPB, Peconic Public Broadcasting.

New York State Senator Ken LaValle plans to add his weight behind pushing the station's non-profit organization through the approval process.

WLIU's managing director Dr. Wally Smith tempered any animosity that may be directed toward the university. "In fairness to LIU, they have invested an immense amount of money over the years," he asserted, however "they have been squeezed by this economic crisis." While there is little that can be done to keep the station affiliated with the university, local public radio is an "endangered species," Smith explained, "and we need to preserve our slice."

Standing beside Thiele and LaValle in support of public radio were Southampton Town Councilmembers Anna Throne-Holst, Chris Nuzzi, Nancy Grabowski and Sally Pope, former Southampton Town Supervisor and current Commissioner of Economic Development and Workforce Housing Patrick "Skip" Heaney, Sag Harbor Village Trustee Robby Stein, East Hampton Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach and Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley, as well as a representative from Congressman Tim Bishop's (D-1) office, as the representative was in Washington working on healthcare legislation.

"We are unalterably committed to its future and doing whatever needs to be done to save it," Thiele assured.

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Guest (Guest) from Freeport says::
SUNY didnt want the radio station to be located on the campus -- now it doesnt even want the college or its undergrad students to be located there either. The town needs to get its act together, take over the whole property, and make it what the communit wants it to be - or stop complaining about what the absentee landlords do with it.
Aug 25, 2010 11:44 pm

Guest (Ed Vossen) from Stuart, Fl says::
The loss of WLIU to the East End will be a blow to serious radio listeners. When I left Southampton for Stuart, Fl., the hardest part was having to leave the WPBX family.
Sep 16, 2009 8:50 am

Guest (William Barbari) from Hampton Bays says::
LIU might have keep supporting the radio station if they hadn't been strong-armed into selling the entire campus to SUNY. Also, no one seems to be mentioning the fact that SUNY does not want the station to be located there anyway.
Sep 10, 2009 3:28 pm


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