Press Release - 7/13 City Hall Press Conference
- 07/11/2017

Media Alert - For Immediate Release
Contact: Bill Crosier Tel: (510) 316-9783 or 347-647-9224 

WBAI-FM Radio, Under Siege from Empire State Building Realty Trust

New York Elected Officials Call to Preserve Historic Free-Speech Radio Station as Empire State Building Lawsuit Demands $2 Million, Puts Station at Risk 

State Assembly Members Richard Gottfried, Jose Rivera and Others Call for Preservation of Legendary NYC Free-speech Radio Station

Press Conference including Elected Officials and Supporters to be held on New York City Hall Steps, Thursday, July 13, 1:00pm

Parent Pacifica Foundation calling for fair settlement and relief from the grossly excessive annual increases in the tower lease 

New York, NY - 
WBAI 99.5 FM, the legendary listener-sponsored free-speech radio station, broadcasting for over 50 years from New York City, is being threatened with the silencing of its airwaves. The non-profit radio station, part of the Pacifica Foundation, is grappling with a lawsuit from the Empire State Building's parent company, Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT), which could bankrupt the foundation. 

New York City elected officials, including New York State Assembly Members Richard Gottfried and Jose Rivera, and other elected officials, along with WBAI-FM management and supporters, will hold a press conference on THURSDAY, JULY 13TH at 1 p.m. on New York City Hall steps calling for the preservation of the station.

ESRT is demanding over $2 million for unpaid tower lease costs, holding the network hostage in an annually escalating contract involving increases of about 9% per year. ESRT is a multinational corporation that held $554.4 million cash and cash equivalents as of Dec. 2016, and owns billions of dollars of real estate.

State and City officials, including State Assembly Members Richard Gottfried and Jose Rivera, Mayor Bill DeBlasio, City Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Council Members Corey Johnson, Rosie Mendez and others, have reached out to the ESRT management, asking the ESRT in a letter to "withdraw its summary judgment and negotiate with the station in good faith. ESRT should, at a minimum, amend the remaining part of WBAI/Pacifica's lease to remove the extremely high escalating payments and let the station out of the remainder of its lease with no penalty. Independent voices in media are needed now more than ever. Please do not force this historic station into bankruptcy."

Pacifica's Interim Executive Director, Bill Crosier, asserts that "the amount being charged is over four times the market rate in New York, and threatens the future of independent radio." WBAI is legendary in NYC's cultural and political life. It was the station that first aired music giants such as Bob Dylan; broadcast extensive Congressional hearings including the Iran/Contra and Comey hearings, as well as cultural events like the annual Bloomsday readings and Wagner Ring Cycle. It also pioneered the first NYC gay and feminist radio shows, and continues to be a strong essential voice advocating for economic, environmental, and racial justice.

After the destruction of the Twin Towers in 2001, broadcasting stations in the NYC area had few options for antenna space rental. ESRT took advantage of its position in the market. In 2005, their owners negotiated a highly questionable contract with Pacifica. ESRT has refused to release Pacifica from the contract, which is scheduled to continue until 2020.  
Pacifica iED Bill Crosier said: "Market rate for FM transmitter tower leases in NYC is now about $12,000 monthly. WBAI's bill for the month of May 2017, in contrast, came to over $53,000. We've been on the Empire State Building since 1965 and have always been willing to pay what's fair and reasonable, but these exorbitant annual increases are killing us. The ESRT must settle and release us from the rest of this onerous contract." 

What: Press Conference held by WBAI -FM radio/Pacifica, elected officials, and supporters
Where: New York City Hall steps
When: Thursday, July 13, 1-1:45 pm

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