WBAI Update: Look Ma! No Empire State Building!

During the last few months so many members of the community radio family have contacted us at Pacifica Network to express concern and offer support for WBAI. All this in regards to the empire state building’s high costs for rent and the judgement against Pacifica. We all have had a lot of anxious moments and feelings about what has been happening so now we are moved to share this HAPPY moment with you all. We received a report from Pacifica Exec Dir Tom Livingston yesterday. See his memo below –

Tom Livingston Pacifica Exec Dir.

Dear  Team –

At about 6 pm tonight we began broadcasting from 4 Times Square. A lot of people did a lot of critical work to make this happen, starting with the Pacifica National Board and the decision on the loans. Our on the ground tech team included Tony Ryan from WBAI, Jake Glanz, our transmitter engineer who used to get paid by WBAI and Jon Almeleh. As of about this time yesterday it looked like we could well have been going dark for as much as two weeks. We won’t get our new transmitter for a week or two because of what became the short timeline. We thought we had a foolproof backup. KPFT sent a surplus transmitter that we could use as a backup. It was shipped via FedEx to the contractor. Yesterday the contractor called up to say they couldn’t find the transmitter! We know it was delivered. Our solution (after checking with other NYC broadcasters to borrow a backup to no avail) was to borrow the WPFW backup transmitter. I drove from Baltimore this morning, met Jerry Paris at the WPFW transmitter site (the traffic coming into DC was terrible – reminded me why I’m glad I’ve moved to Baltimore!). When we got to the site, on the campus of American University, a crew had dug a trench across the driveway to the transmitter site. We had to carry the two heavy pieces up the stairs through a campus building to my car.

Traffic up 95 was light (if you’ve ever been on 95 you understand “light” is a relative term), and I delivered the transmitter to the team there about 3:30 (traffic was pretty bad in Manhattan too. there was no way to turn left off of 42nd), and they had us on the air within a few hours. As I write this, they are gathering the things we want to keep from the Empire State Building, and I’m back in Baltimore celebrating with a drink and a (cooked) frozen pizza. If we’d gone over by an hour, our expectation was that Empire State Building would charge us double rent. If we’d gone off the air for the two weeks until the new transmitter was delivered and installed it would have caused immeasurable damage.

Tom Livingston

And that’s how it’s done (My Statement, not Tom’s)  Hat’s off to Tom, Jon, Tony, Jerry, and Jake for being such action figures. And hey, extended family: thanks for your solidarity – always makes all the difference.