University accepts WLIU fans’ bid for station

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Long Island University last week agreed to sell WLIU-FM to a nonprofit set up to maintain the main public radio station on the eastern end of the island.

Peconic Public Broadcasting will buy the station in Southampton from the private university for $2.425 million in cash and in-kind services.

Wally Smith, head of the station for LIU and now president of Peconic, said the new nonprofit will absorb the cost of moving its studio and transmitter from the Southampton campus of another local school, Stony Brook, which LIU was obligated to do. Also as part of the deal, Peconic will provide programming and services to LIU’s small mid-island station for three years.

Two religious broadcasters also bid to buy WLIU, Peconic said.

The station will relocate to Mitchell Kriegman’s video production complex, Wainscott Studio (where he makes the PBS Kids show It’s a Big Big World), and the call letters will change to WPPB-FM, but the frequency will remain 88.3.

More than 750 local listeners expressed support by joining an informal group Save Public Radio on the East End (SPREE), but Peconic isn’t collecting pledges until New York state gives it nonprofit status, probably by the end of the month, Smith told Current. As a backup, Peconic established nonprofit status in Connecticut within 24 hours after the group applied, he said.

With the Hamptons in WLIU’s area, SPREE drew more than its share of well-known supporters, including playwright Terrence McNally, model Christie Brinkley, adman Jerry Della Femina, talk star Joy Behar, publisher Jann Wenner, poet Billy Collins, singer Suzanne Vega and actor Alec Baldwin.

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