In a report about the financial difficulties surrounding the Pacifica Foundation and its stations, TheVillager.com states that one of the plans the board of directors repetitively floated would be to swap the Class B signal of 99.5 WBAI New York located at the top of the Empire State Building for a lesser signal and cash. Otherwise station may need to even temporarily go dark at the end of the year for the inability to pay the rent for its transmitter.
According to P.N.B. member Tracy Rosenberg, a former New Yorker now representing Berkeley radio station KPFA, board members have been considering either temporarily shutting down WBAI at the end of the year when its lease runs out, or swapping the signal for another, weaker one — as the former New York Times-owned WQXR did some years ago — in return for cash, but at the cost of a much weaker signal. The most recent offer for a “signal swap” made public a few years ago included an offer of more than $100 million to Pacifica.
There are a few possibile suitors that could give up a not as good signal in New York and gain the stronger 99.5 in return.
Would CBS swap one of its 50kw AM’s to add an additional FM in New York? The company is maxed out in the market with 3 AM’s, 3 FM’s, and 2 TV’s but would the allure of shifting Sports WFAN or one of its two AM All-News stations to FM be worth it?
Cumulus could offer 770 WABC or recent move-in 103.9 WFAS-FM Bronxville which puts a city grade signal over the northern half of Manhattan, all of The Bronx, the northern tip of Queens in New York City itself.
Univision has 1280 WADO or suburban 92.7 WQBU Garden City as possibilities.
Any third party could engage the possibly on the market 94.7 WFME Newark where the new party adds 99.5 and WBAI goes to 94.7. The only company that can be completely ruled out is Clear Channel, which is maxed out with 5 full powered FM’s in New York.
A similar scenario could end up in play in San Francisco, where Pacifica also operates a full powered Class B on the commercial part of the FM band in 94.1 KPFA Berkeley. The Pacifica Foundation also operates non-commercial FM’s in Houston, Los Angeles, and Washington DC.