In this week’s issue… WNET buys radio – Morning change in Buffalo – Irish HD gone in Boston – Rivers gets promoted – (Another) Canadian AM plans downgrade

By SCOTT FYBUSH

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*NEW YORK‘s public TV station, WNET (Channel 13), is branching into radio at the far end of its service area.

It’s entering into a public service operating agreement with Peconic Public Broadcasting, which runs WPPB (88.3 Southampton) on the East End of Long Island, and it’s planning to buy the station outright for about $944,000.

For the nearly sixty years it’s been around, WNET has been strictly a TV operator, though it’s branched out from its New Jersey and New York City roots by acquiring Long Island’s WLIW (Channel 21). But while WNET and WLIW can be seen throughout the entire New York TV market, most of which is served by New York public radio behemoth WNYC, the WPPB radio signal is limited to just eastern Suffolk County and some adjacent parts of the Connecticut shoreline.

It’s been a challenge for everyone who’s tried to operate the station; for many years, it was run by Long Island University as WPBX and WLIU before the independent Peconic group took over in 2010.

As WNET will likely find out, public radio can be a hard sell in resort areas; despite reaching out to some of the wealthy celebrities who make their summer homes in the Hamptons, WPPB has struggled with its finances from time to time. The year-round population in the region is small, with the added challenge of strong relay transmitters that serve the area from Connecticut-based WNPR and WSHU also fighting for listener and underwriter dollars. And operating radio poses different challenges from operating TV, too – is WNET ready to be local for what’s essentially a small market on the East End?

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