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Long Island University Weighs Options for WLIU 88.3 FM, its National Public Radio Affiliate Station

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Paola Curcio-Kleinman,Associate Vice President for Marketing and Public Relations
University Center,
Long Island University
516-299-2402

Southampton, N.Y. - As part of a continual University-wide review of its multifaceted educational and operating activities, Long Island University is in the process of evaluating several 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 in Southampton, N.Y., is the flagship station of Long Island University’s Public Radio Network and is the only National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate on Long Island. It serves a population of more than 400,000 on eastern Long Island, in southern Westchester 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,” said Robert Altholz, Long Island University’s vice president for finance and treasurer. 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 October 3, 2009.

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,” said 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,” noted Dr. Smith “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.

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.

Posted 08/07/2009

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