Pacifica & Empire State Building Reach Settlement To Avoid Asset Seizures; WBAI To Move
Under the terms of the settlement, Pacifica states that it will be relieved of the judgment, additional rent and and penalties accrued since the judgement, and any remaining obligations that were to be incurred after May 31, 2018. No financial terms of the settlement were revealed but Pacifica states it will pay it off through a loan from FJC that allows the foundation to not make payments for the first 18 months of the loan and only on interest payments for the following 18 months.
As part of the deal Pacifica will be freed from the final two years of its lease at the Empire State Building and move WBAI to a new facility at 4 Times Square. WBAI has held a Construction Permit to operate at 4TS with 10kW/282.3m which will give it nearly identical coverage to what it has from the Empire State Building. 4 Times Square, formerly known as the Condé Nast Building, is the home of 89.9 WKCR, 91.5 WNYE, and the auxiliary transmitters for fourteen FMs including all of Emmis, iHeartMedia, and Spanish Broadcasting Systems FM’s in New York. The station is also purchasing a new transmitter to replace its failing 26 year old model.
The Pacifica Foundation announced today the settlement on a series of agreements that release WBAI, the organization’s New York radio station, from a court judgment as well as the last two years of its lease at the Empire State Building as of May 31, 2018. The Foundation is also in the final stages of completing an agreement to relocate its transmission facility to a new site nearby. The agreements and move will preserve Pacifica’s service to millions of people in the New York Metro area.
The settlement, announced by the Pacifica National Board, relieves Pacifica of a $1.8 million 2017 judgment for Empire State Realty Trust (the organization that operates the Empire State Building) and against WBAI and Pacifica, additional rent and penalties accrued since the judgment was issued, and any remaining obligations that would have incurred after May 31, 2018.
Funding for the settlement was provided through a loan from the non-profit lender FJC, which includes a reserve amount that frees Pacifica from making payments for the first eighteen months of the loan and interest payments only for the following 18 months before the loan matures after three years.
The pending agreement for the new transmission site at 4 Times Square will include purchase and installation of a new transmitter, which will replace WBAI’s current obsolete and failing 28-year-old unit. Capitalization for the transmitter will be provided by the new landlord, with the cost amortized over the life of the agreement.
The board also announced today the launch of a search for a new permanent Executive Director as well as a strategic planning effort, and a $56,000 gift from the estate of former WBAI supporter, Mr. Jim Krivo.
Board Chair, Nancy Sorden said, “These series of steps – getting a loan to resolve the judgment, release from the remainder of the lease, moving to our new site, and launching our search for a permanent Executive Director, are steps we are taking to give us the time to recover, stabilize, and improve our operations. This is our opportunity to return Pacifica to its place at the forefront of being a place to hear alternative, progressive, corporation-independent, and community-based voices of music, news, information, and inspiration at a time when they are desperately needed in this country and around the world. As a board and an organization, we are determined to take advantage of this opportunity and call for our communities and progressive people everywhere to join us in the effort.”
“I’d like to first thank the Pacifica National Board, for deciding on this approach and the enormous amount of work they put into it to get us to this point. Second, to FJC for providing this loan at a very difficult time for Pacifica, and third to the team of professionals that helped negotiate the settlement, secure the funding, identify and secure an agreement for our new transmitter location. I’d like to specifically thank our lawyers Sam Himmelstein, and John Crigler of Garvey, Shubert Barer , who represented us with ESRT and helped review and improve these agreements, as well as Marc Hand of the Public Media Company, who helped negotiate the settlement with ESRT and provided brokerage services with FJC. I’d also like to thank our community members, especially from our Los Angeles station, KPFK, who came through with additional loan money to close the gap for what was needed. And last but not least, our thanks also to our new current interim Executive Director, Tom Livingston, who recognizes our dedication and passion and knows how to help us to keep moving forward to get it done.”