Monday, November 21, 2016


A decade ago Rhode Island Public Radio (RIPR) helped create Latino Public Radio (LPR) to serve Rhode Island's growing Spanish-speaking community. RIPR leased WRNI (1290 AM) to LPR. Now, according to an article in the Providence Journal [link], the lease is up and RIPR wants to sell the station and LPR doesn’t have the dough to buy it. The result is an existential crisis for LPR.
RIPR has given LPR six months to purchase the station. If they can’t raise the money WRNI will be sold to another party. WRNI’s appraised value is $500,000. Last year LPR had annual revenue of around $230,000. The station has three paid employees.

Dr. Pablo Rodriguez
Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, LPR President and CEO described the situation to the Journal:

"We have to raise an enormous amount of money in order to buy the frequency the station sits on from Rhode Island Public Radio. If we can't raise funds, then the frequency, 1290 AM, will be for sale and we will likely be off the air.”

“LPR is the sole public bilingual radio station in the Northeast. The programming is trailblazing and essential to the Spanish-speaking Latino community that is in dire need of services we provide."

“We’re trying our best to save the station. It's just difficult to think that we can raise the amount of money necessary to buy the signal in six months.”

LPR is trying to leverage its political clout by appealing to the governor's office and the Rhode Island congressional delegation for help. The National Latino Public Radio Consortium has also pledged its support.

Torey Malatia, executive director of RIPR said the decision to sell WRNI is financial:

“We bought it [from WBUR] for $1.8 million; it’s worth about a few hundred thousand now. We just can’t keep operating it. We are in fact clearing the field of potential offers to give Latino Public Radio an exclusive opportunity to negotiate to purchase [WRNI], should they choose to do so."


101.9 FM coverage area
In July 2015 we reported [link] that WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana purchased FM translator W270BH – 101.9 FM for $45,000.  WFIU upgraded the facility to 250-watts. 101.9 FM repeating the Classical music schedule of WFIU’s HD2 channel.

Now WFIU wants listeners to decide what programming they want hear. WFIU Operations Director John Bailey told local media:

“We have audiences that either listen to mostly news or mostly music. They’re sizeable, but distinct.

Bailey says 101.9 FM will offer complementary programming -- meaning that when WFIU plays music, 101.9 will have talk programming and vice versa. Previously, this feature was only available to listeners if they had a way to tune in to the station’s HD radio channel.

KEN SAYS: I don’t understand why WFIU is doing hour-by-hour "complementary" programming. Consider having two “pure” program streams: 24/7 news on WFIU and Classical on 101.9.


As I write this I it is nice and warm inside my house on Twin Cities' first winter day. 

I just finished listening to Dear Sugar Radio [link] from WBUR, Boston. However, it is not on radio, is a podcast. Why is something this good not heard on radio?

Dear Sugar Radio is the kind of audio that SHOULD be available on the radio platform. Sugar has the kind of edgy excitement that public radio needs. Public radio needs to be more bold and sassy.

I know the economics are different for radio and podcasts but I think it is wise to invest in new radio programming at this time. An edited version of Dear Sugar Radio is too good to deny it to radio listeners. If we want broadcast radio to stay vital we need to create a pipeline of new programming. Radio versions of podcasts like Dear Sugar Radio are a good way to start. 

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