Sep 13, 2011

WBGO enters homestretch for signal upgrade project

WBGO launched the public phase of a $3 million capital campaign fundraising for a major signal improvement project. The jazz and NPR News station plans to put a new antenna on the spire atop 4 Times Square, one of the tallest structures in New York City, which is home of Condé Nast magazines and a huge NASDAQ display above street level. The upgrade will improve signal quality for listeners throughout metropolitan New York and New Jersey and expand the station's potential audience by 1 million listeners.

Several funders, including the defunct Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, brought WBGO to the half-way mark in its capital campaign. The station now is appealing for listener contributions so that engineers can flip the switch on the new transmitter by year's end.

Stations' D.C. bureau, Capitol News Connection, to close this month

After covering Congress for dozens of public radio stations for more than eight years, the nonprofit operator of Capitol News Connection will wind down operations by the end of the month. The news service faltered late last year, lost subscribing stations and finally lost further support from CPB, which itself suffered a $30 million cut from its digital project funding. "[A]fter a careful review of our finances and cash flow, we have concluded that it would be impossible to replace those funds in time to ensure the continuation of the service," CNC announced today.

The service held down its fees to stations, which rarely exceeded 32 percent of its annual revenue, but that made it dependent on aid from CPB and foundations, said Melinda Wittstock, founder and chief exec — who also served as one of CNC's handful of Capitol Hill reporters.

She said CNC, since 2003, has produced 32,594 spots customized for particular local stations and 7,094 feature and investigative reports for as many as 51 subscribing station licensees.

"We are endeavoring to make good on as many of the outstanding spots and features owed to stations in the next few weeks," Wittstock said.

More in Current, Sept. 19.

Rhode Island Public Radio seals deal for FM channel

Rhode Island Public Radio will move its NPR News service to WELH 88.1 FM in Providence in October.

The signal transition, which was negotiated this summer, provides for Latino Public Radio to expand into a full-time broadcast service on 1290 AM, the channel that served as a beachhead in establishing an independent public radio service in Rhode Island under the call letters WRNI. By moving off the AM dial onto the reserved FM band, RIPR strengthens its channel position in the most populated region of the state.

The Wheeler School, a private prep school in Providence, agreed to provide 88.1 FM to RIPR through a programming partnership, not a sale. Its student-programmed radio service will migrate to an online streaming site.