In this week’s issue… WNYC cuts 14 – Suitors line up for FM auction – Noncomm FM window to open – Remembering CT’s Colon, Ron Chapman – New FM in Toronto
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*It was a bad week at NEW YORK Public Radio, the parent of New York’s WNYC (93.9/820), WQXR (105.9) and an ever-growing podcast operation.
On Friday, CEO Goli Sheikholeslami broke the news that 14 staffers, including four in the newsroom, would have their positions eliminated as NYPR tries to close the gap on a budget deficit that began before the pandemic but was exacerbated by sponsorship shortfalls over the last year.
“(W)e cannot achieve our goals and meet our commitments while shouldering a fourth year of losses,” she wrote in a memo to staffers. Sheikholeslami says the job cuts will save about $3 million over the next year, chipping away at a deficit that reached $6.9 million in fiscal year 2019, before the pandemic hit and reduced sponsorship revenue by 27%.
While NYPR didn’t announce specific names, Current reports the cuts included 14-year veteran Richard Yeh, supervising senior producer at WNYC News, as well as several editorial staffers at WNYC-owned Gothamist.com.
NYPR’s cutbacks also include reductions and suspensions of merit pay and bonuses and cutbacks in retirement plan matching, though some of those moves will require union negotiations, and SAG-AFTRA is already vowing to fight cutbacks that it says may violate the union contract.
*Away from New York and other big cities, broadcasters hoping for the chance to fill some of the few remaining tiny holes on the FM dial are about to get another opportunity. The FCC’s Auction 109 is set for bidding to begin in July, and the preliminary applications from broadcasters who plan to bid on available FM channels are due a week from Wednesday, giving us our first opportunity to learn who might want to bid on the available channels.
What’s out there for potential applicants? There are a few channels that had been in previous auctions but had gone without bidders or had bidders default, including 100.9A in Westfield NY (on the fringe of the Erie PA market), 97.3A Jefferson NH, 105.9A Hardwick VT and 102.9A Narrowsburg NY. There are a handful of channels that once had licensed stations but have been vacated, including 97.3A Orange MA (the old WJDF) and 107.5A West Rutland VT, which was last used back in the 1990s by WRUT.
And there are a bunch of channels that had been added to the table of allocations over the years but never filled: 94.1A Keesville NY up by Lake Champlain, 107.1A Livingston Manor NY, and out at the tip of Long Island, 103.3A Shelter Island NY and 94.5A Sagaponack NY, as well as 101.5A Groveton NH and 98.7A Stratford NH.
Will bidders show up to meet minimum bids that range from $10,000 to $75,000, depending on the population that could be covered by the new signals? We’ll be following closely – and Fybush Media is ready with application and consulting services to assist broadcasters eager to explore possible new signals in the auction.
(We’re also ready, willing and getting our slots filled up fast to help noncommercial applicants looking for new frequencies in the filing window the FCC recently announced for November – contact us soon if you’re interested in what might be available!)
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