The Radio Industry’s Newest Owner: Thirteen


In the New York Tri-State area, public television has been synonymous with Channel 13 for nearly 50 years. It’s noted in the Billy Joel song, “Pressure,” and the “Thirteen” brand has established PBS member station WNET-13 as one of the nation’s most preeminent educational broadcast facilities.

Now, WNET, chartered by the board of regents of the State University of New York, is buying its first radio station.

In a deal agreed to on October 17 and filed with the FCC one week later, WNET Corp. is acquiring Peconic Public Broadcasting‘s flagship WPPB-FM 88.3 in Southampton, Long Island, in the eastern portion of New York’s Suffolk County.

WPPB carries a construction permit for a Class B facility, allowing it to serve a region from Coram, in central Long Island, east to Montauk. WPPB’s signal also reaches coastal Connecticut communities such as Madison, east of New Haven.

WPPB, which was WLIU until 2010, is in the midst of a fall fundraising drive and markets itself as “Long Island’s Only NPR Station.”

That’s not entirely accurate. WSUF-FM 89.9 in Noyack, N.Y. is an NPR member station. However, the Sacred Heart University-owned station uses the facility to rebroadcast WSHU-FM in Fairfield, Conn.

Furthermore, WSHU airs classical music in midday hours between Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Then, there is Class B1 WRLI-FM 91.3 in Southampton. It is a member station of Connecticut Public Radio.

It sees President/CEO Neal Shapiro feels strongly that Suffolk County listeners have programming originating from New York, for New Yorkers.

WNET is paying $944,834 for WPPB, while also offering a “Public Service Operating Agreement” prior to closing.

The broker of record is Public Media Company, representing WNET.

How did this deal come to light? Bob Feinberg is the likely link. He is a member of the Peconic board and is also an officer of WNET.

This suggests Peconic’s team will continue to operate WPPC, but as a unit of WNET.

In the New York market, NPR member station WNYC-FM is owned by the City of New York. The PBS member stations are those of WNET, and include WLIW-21 in Garden City, N.Y. It also acquired the former “NJN” stations and operates via a subsidiary four PBS stations across New Jersey.