From the Soundboard is a show that usually focuses on concerts regardless of genre. Artist and/or group perfecting the art of “call and response” with its audience. On Wednesday, July 19 starting @ 3 am, WBAI is in its Summer Fund Drive. Rather than totally focus on a premium, I will play excerpts of the July 13 press conference about the perilous situation with the realty management of the Empire State Building. Independent media in the NYC is in serious jeopardy. This is not a drill.
Radio Station WBAI-FM (99.5) and parent non-profit the Pacifica Foundation are grappling with a lawsuit from the Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT) involving millions in radio antenna rental space fees. ESRT is demanding over $2 million for unpaid tower lease costs, holding the network hostage in an annually escalating contract involving increases of about 9% per year. Pacifica’s Interim Executive Director, Bill Crosier, is asking for a fair settlement and release from the lease. He asserts that “the amount being charged is over four times the market rate in New York, and threatens the future of independent community radio”. The Pacifica Foundation is a non-profit media network that owns WBAI in New York, four sister community radio stations, a historic audio archive and provides programming for over 220 affiliated stations across the country. Its income is about 12 million dollars per year. Empire State Realty Trust is a multinational corporation that held $554.4 million cash and cash equivalents as of Dec. 2016, and owns billions of dollars of real estate. ESRT’s contractual maneuvers to maximize profits without consideration for community interests have severely impacted the Pacifica Network and threatens its future operations.
Listeners and media staff across the US are taking action with petitions, press releases, videos and social media in support of Pacifica and WBAI as they face this daunting legal assault. Pacifica is asking for community support to help Pacifica get a fair settlement with ESRT and relief from the grossly excessive annual increases in the antenna lease.[Press release by Pacifica Interim Executive Director Bill Crosier]