Another Progressive Radio Station Lost

  • Another Progressive Radio Station Lost
    Times are tough in New York. First there have been major troubles at Pacifica station WBAI. Now, as the NY Times reports, the city is set to lose another progressive voice on the radio airwaves when station WEVD turns over management to ABC, which will program it with the satellite-based ESPN Radio. Started in 1927, WEVD takes its call letters from Eugene V. Debs and has been owned by the Jewish Daily Forward since 1931. Apparently the Forward was interested in selling the station outright for about $90 million, but ABC refused to pony up that much.

    Just like in the Pacifica battle, there has been listener opposition to a sale of WEVD–they operate a website called SaveWEVD.

    This is the second such loss of liberal/progressive radio, after the Working Assets-owned Radio for Changein Boulder, CO called it quits back in June. A significant factor in these deals is the inflated cash value of radio stations, especially in large markets, triggered by the relaxation of ownership limits brought on by the Telecomm Act of 1996. When an owner is either not making much money–as in the Radio for Change example–or is losing money on other properties–like the Forward which lost $2 million on its paper–it’s hard to turn down the huge cash infusion brought on by selling or turning over management of broadcast property. Where before the Telecomm Act an independent owner might hold on to a station that was brining in reasonable profits, since the selling price might not outweigh the accumulated value of the station’s profits and the value of operating it, now that the selling price can be in the tens of millions of dollars, there is much less incentive to hold on. With an intensely competitive ad market that results from large station group owners selling agressively priced packages for ads on multiple stations, independents who are unable to offer such packages see their ad revenue shrink. Thus selling out is often the only economically viable option.

    Unfortunately, it looks like the FCC is primed to begin a whole new round of deregulation, and so it seems we can only expect things to get worse.

  • Posted





    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *