Friday, July 7, 2017


Public radio stations excel at bringing people to together for fun and wisdom. Today we are featuring three events this Saturday, July 8th that were created, in part, by noncommercial radio stations.

Check out these events if you are in Los Angeles, Duluth or Boston.  

LECTURE: Frances Anderton, Host of KCRW’S DnA: Design and Architecture

Frances Anderton
Image courtesy David Harry Stewart

KCRW and the Los Angeles Free School of Architecture (FSA) present a public lecture by Frances Anderton on her work in educating the public about architecture and urbanism. 

The event is scheduled for Saturday (7/8) from 3:00pm – 5:00pm at The Container Yard in the Los Angeles Arts District. 

Seating is limited. For more information send an email to:

Frances Anderton is deeply involved in two worlds: The study of design and the impact of structures on life and her desire to tell people about it on KCRW, Los Angeles.

She is the host DnA: Design and Architecture [link] a weekly radio show broadcast on KCRW, Santa Monica.
Anderton is an internationally known reporter and commentator on the function of public spaces and trends in architecture and design. 

She has written for the New York Times, Dwell magazine, and Architectural Review.

At KCRW, Anderton produced To The Point and Which Way, LA?, hosted by Warren Olney.

On Saturday she will be speaking about her new project in association with KCRW, Bridges and Walls, about the metaphorical and physical barriers shaping life in California today. The project is supported by the California Arts Council. She wrote this about the premise of Bridges and Walls:

Construction of the 405 freeway in the 1950s
A freeway connects at the same time as it walls off neighborhoods. 

High-speed rail connects cities even as it severs communities. Broadband connects us globally while enabling us to build digital walls. 

DnA is looking at examples of bridges, walls and the ways they connect and divide. What are the bridges and walls in your life?

More information about Bridges and Walls can be found here. 


We have written several times about Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current and its increased presence in the Duluth-Superior market. 

This Saturday, July 8th The Current spreads the love in person at Bayfront Festival Park from 4:30pm until after dark.

The concert features “a-list” Minnesota artists: Hippo Campus, Polica, (Duluth-based) Low, Jay Smart and Remo Drive. Hippo Campus from Minneapolis.  

Hippo Campus is getting extensive airplay on The Current

Some folks are calling them “the next big thing” from the scene that produced Bob Dylan, Price and Soul Asylum.

Tickets are $30.00. More information is available here.


This Saturday at 9:00pm The Moth will stage a battle of wits and words by ten StorySLAM finalists at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.

This will be a fierce, hilarious and heart breaking competition of wordsmiths telling tales of summer temperatures, hot experiences and crackling passion. The Heat is on!

More information is available here.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


In a surprising turn of events, the FM translator at 105.5 FM that used to broadcast Bluegrass Country via WAMU-HD2 is now a repeater of Sputnik Radio, a propaganda arm of the Russian government. Bluegrass Country exited 105.5 on June 21st because it could not afford to lease the signal.  DC listeners can still hear Bluegrass Country on WAMU-HD2 and online here.

The translator is owned by Washington-based communications attorney John Garziglia. 

105.5 FM is licensed to Reston, Virginia and provides a decent signal to folks in the District and first-ring suburbs. 

The coverage map is on the right.

To make Sputnik Radio [link] available to DC listeners via 105.5 the Russians are leasing WKYS-FM’s HD3 channel. The FCC allows programming broadcast on HD channels to be repeated on FM translators. No information is available about how much money Russia is paying Urban Radio, owner of WKYS, or Garziglia.

Sputnik Radio is a 24/7 English-language service with at least one voice that is familiar to US radio listeners: Thom Hartmann. 

Hartmann’s radio talk show is carried daily Sputnik and his TV program The Big Picture appears daily on Russia TodayRT,” Sputnik’s video cousin.

In a statement, Mindia Gavasheli, the editor-in-chief of Sputnik's D.C. bureau, welcomed the move into the Nation’s capitol:

Propaganda cartoon found on Sputnik's website
We’re glad to finally be able to directly address our listeners in Washington. During the last few months Sputnik Radio has become the target of constant attacks in the US corporate media. And often the people who wrote or spoke about us didn’t even bother to listen to our broadcasts first."

Hartmann has not commented on his new radio voice in DC.


Washington, DC isn’t the only American city where radio listeners can hear pro-Russian content. Last February we reported [link] about RUSA Radio, a Russian language news service based in Brooklyn that leased the HD2 channel for iHeartMedia’s WWPR, New York.

RUSA Radio [link] is privately owned and it is unknown if it has ties to, or receives funds from Russia. It provides programming in both English and Russian. RUSA Radio is also on the air in Philadelphia and Miami via iHeart HD channels and iHeart radio app.

The FCC requires that licensees know what foreign language programs are saying on their frequencies, so we hope someone at iHeart knows Russian and is monitoring their HD2 channels.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Perhaps the beleaguered Pacifica Foundation has reached a point of no return. 

Work on an antenna at the top of the Empire State Building
WBAI, Pacifica’s New York City flagship will have to come up with big bucks pronto if a judge rules in favor of the Empire State Building in a dispute over unpaid rent for the station’s transmitter site located at the top of the historic building.

On Friday, June 30th, the Empire State Building (ESB) filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in New York State Supreme Court against WBAI/Pacifica. ESB demands the immediate payment of $2.1 million (plus legal fees) for over three years of missed rent payments. WBAI/Pacifica doesn’t appear to have the money and may be forced to sell some of its assets.

click to enlarge
Also on June 30th, WBAI began distributing the notice on the left to members and listeners to Save WBAI and Pacifica.  

The reasons they provide to Save Pacifica include service to oppressed communities, the impact of the 9/11 attacks and the fact the the owners of the ESB have received tax breaks from various government agencies. 

ESB’s Motion says all of these reasons are irrelevant and do not excuse Pacifica's breach of contract.

ESB’s 6/29/17 Motion paints a devastating picture of WBAI/Pacifica’s current situation:

• WBAI/Pacifica has breached the ESB tower site lease when they failed to pay the rent.

• WBAI/Pacifica falsely alleged that ESB agreed to accept a lower monthly rent while negotiating the debt.

• WBAI/Pacifica is trying to use it’s own dire financial circumstances as a reason to not pay the rent, even though [quoting from the Motion] “…[Pacifica] holds five separate FCC licenses whose values range… from the millions of dollars to tens of millions of dollars.”

As evidence of Pacifica’s ability to pay, the ESB Motion uses Pacifica's own words to make their case. Pacifica filed a Financial Stabilization Plan on March 31, 2017 with the California Attorney General in order to preserve its nonprofit tax status. In that report, Pacifica said, in part:

However, this shows the potential value of the WBAI radio license and demonstrates that, in a worst case scenario, can pull itself out. Pacifica has substantial assets but they are not reflected in the books.

In the Motion ESB says Pacifica/WBAI has no valid defense and asks the Court to rule that the entire debt should be paid now. The Court’s judgment could come any day.

According to posts on WBAI’s website [link], Pacifica has enlisted the support of Mayor de Blasio and other elected officials try to try save the ship.

De Blasio pleads in the letter ESB:

WBAI’s Station Manager Berthold Reimers also visited Albany to gather the support of New York State Senators in what they called an "existential fight." The Mayor and State Senators have no jurisdiction in the matter.