WBAI Off The Air; But Not Due To Empire State Judgment (Yet)

99.5 WBAI New York Empire State Building RentThe ongoing drama surrounding the Pacifica Foundation and its 99.5 WBAI New York has taken another turn as the station went off-the-air on Saturday due to transmitter failure.

The station remains off today and Pacifica Interim Executive Director Bill Crosier states it may be until the middle of the week at the earliest for them to resume broadcasting. Crosier stated in an e-mail forum that the station first went off due to a Verizon related STL outage but then returned briefly before the transmitter “malfunctioned and shut down”. They are awaiting new parts to be delivered or for a backup transmitter to be delivered from 89.3 WPFW Washington DC.

Meanwhile Pacifica continue struggle along as it tries to figure out how to pay the $1,819,687.52 (and growing) debt owed to Empire State Realty Trust for use of the transmission antenna on the Empire State Building. ESRT filed the judgment with the states of California (where Pacifica is headquartered and owns 90.7 KPFK Los Angeles and 94.1 KPFA and 89.3 KPFB Berkeley/San Francisco) and Texas (where they own 90.1 KPFT Houston) in order to give it the option to begin seizing Pacifica assets in those states should Pacifica fail to pay.

I was told that yesterday morning’s WBAI outage was a Verizon problem (those have been frequent) and that the new backup system we have for the studio-to-transmitter link did not work properly.

Then WBAI was back on the air for a while yesterday afternoon, but the transmitter malfunctioned and shut down. I’m told that it appears to be a problem with the controls for a blower, to keep the transmitter from overheating. Our tech people are working on it and I don’t have a current update, but it may require getting parts from the factory, which may mean Tuesday or later before it’s fully operational. That is an estimate, though. We are trying to see if there’s a faster way to get back on the air, with reduced power, until a proper fix is made, possibly using WPFW’s backup transmitter if we can get it to NY and hooked up. I’m told our NY tech people are also looking at other options, but I don’t have any specifics on that yet.

Everyone should be able to listen, and donate, via wbai.org of course.

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

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