Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is WNYC Radio Putting The Financial Bite On Its Listeners Simply To Acquire Other Radio Licenses? It Certainly Seems That Way

WNYC Public Radio Buys WQXR's Call Letters
And Starts A Sister Station
Is WNYC Committing Fraud In Its Financial Solicitations?
Written By James F. Marino

For years this author has asked the question how can a *non profit organization make substantial purchases for the private gain of certain individuals? I say this because anyone who regularly listens to WNYC is well aware that the station is constantly putting the bite on its listeners for donations. To hear such radio personalities as Midge Woolsey and Elliot Forrest ask their listeners for financial contributions during their constant fund raisers, has always made it sound as if WNYC has always been one contribution away from closing its doors.

*"WNYC is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which makes WNYC Radio eligible for many employers' Corporate Matching Gifts programs."

This, when in reality, the corporation which controls WNYC's broadcast license was able to purchase its licenses from New York City some years back, and is now starting another station, while using some public funds in which to pay for the benefit of its branding recognition, in buying the well recognized call letters from the NY Times owned WQXR.

In other words, the station which WNYC will now operate on frequency 105.9 will be a new station, however, with WQXR's station call letters.

Another tremendous branding coup for WNYC.

Moreover, if WNYC is able to afford to pay millions of dollars for the luxury of starting a new radio station with the cache of WQXR's call letters, isn't it time that the public wised up to the fact that the so called non profit organization which controls WNYC is merely playing "Broadcast Monopoly" with their donations?

Given this latest purchase, it would be interesting to know exactly whose names are on WNYC's license, and whose names will be on WQXR's license once it changes hands and becomes the property of the same non for profit organization that maintains control of WNYC.

This author has no doubt that it would certainly come as a shock to WNYC's regular listeners, if some of the names of some of the radio personalities who have hustled donations from the public over the years are also to be found listed on WNYC and WQXRs' radio licenses.

In this author's opinion, if WNYC has access to millions of dollars in which to purchase WQXR's radio license, then WNYC's board of directors are misrepresenting themselves to the public as a station that is always on the verge of bankruptcy, when it's quite clear that with its purchase of WQXR's radio license, WNYC is in fact a profitable organization using the public's money in which to expand its own operations.

To take this a step further, if WNYC is always in arrears because of its attempted expansion, that is still tantamount to fleecing the public. I say this since if this is the case, then WNYC would appear to be intentionally operating beyond its financial means in order to significantly expand its operations, and looking to the public to subsidize these operations, without WNYC's own listeners/patrons benefiting from any financial compensation for having done so.

For example, how many of you have paid $100 for a CD that you could have purchased at the store for ten bucks, while being told that you've made a worthy contribution to WNYC during one of its past fund raisers?

Would you go to Burger King or McDonalds and pay $100 for a $10 meal?

Of course not. Yet, you do the same thing when you drastically overpay for a WNYC totebag, CD, DVD, or some other item that they have marked up significantly.

As such, those who make such donations are helping to make a small group of people wealthy in gaining control of important broadcast properties under the pretense of benefitting the WNYC's listeners. However, unless one owns a piece of these broadcast properties, they are not benefitting financially in the least.

Yet those who maintain control over these properties certainly will.

So, WNYC's listeners should wise up to where their money is going, since it appears that they are helping to make those who control WNYC wealthy, with their own hard earned donations.

Something that this author has suspected since first listening to these fund drives in the 1990's, when WNYC was putting the bite on the public to cough up donations in order to enable this non for profit corporation to purchase WNYC's broadcast license from the City of New York.

Some public stations genuinely need to do charity fund raisers to remain solvent. However, in the case of WNYC, it appears that such fund raisers are being used in which to fleece the public of their money, while in the process making the so called none for profit corporation which controls WNYC wealthy.

And this is even worse when one considers that some big entertainment names are being used in order to draw these listeners into such schemes, through the types of matching contributions which charitable trust organizations like the non profit organization which controls WNYC is entitled to.

Once again, the City of New York no longer owns the license for WNYC; a non profit corporation does. >[? And the listeners of WNYC should demand to see the names of those who maintain a position in this organization, so that they can know who benefits from the ownership of both WNYC and WQXRs' broadcast licenses.

They may be extremely dismayed at what they find.

Especially since while those who control WNYC's broadcast licenses may be registered as a non profit organization, this organization clearly remains profitable for some people.

The key now is to find out who these people are, and if some are in fact the very personalities who are constantly hustling WNYC's listeners for donations.

Furthermore, are WNYC-AM, WNYC-FM and WNYC-TV the only broadcast properties owned by this corporation (this in addition to the newly purchased WQXR), or do they control others which the long-term patrons of WNYC are unaware of?

- James F. Marino

Also See:
by Ronni Reich/The Star-Ledger
Tuesday July 14, 2009, 5:45 PM
WNYC radio has purchased the classical music station WQXR from the New York Times, it was announced yesterday.
The station has been operating since 1936, and was Times-owned since 1944.
With the goal of maintaining a classical music radio station, WNYC struck a deal to acquire WQXR and move the station from 96.3 to 105.9. Along with the purchase, WNYC has launched the Campaign to Preserve Classical Music Radio in New York City, a $15 million campaign co-chaired by renowned classical pianist Emanuel Ax. The Jerome L. Greene Foundation, the campaign's lead donor, has agreed to a $5 million challenge grant.

As part of the transaction, which was announced in a joint statement by the three parties involved, Univision will pay the Times Company $33.5 million to exchange the FCC 105.9 FM broadcast license and transmitting equipment for the Times Company's license, equipment, and signal at 96.3 FM. WNYC will purchase the FCC broadcast license for 105.9 FM, all related transmitting equipment and WQXR's call letters and website from the Times Company for $11.5 million.

WNYC announced it planned to continue two of WQXR's most listened to live programs -- "Saturday Afternoon at the Opera" and "The Philharmonic This Week" -- on WQXR. The new station will begin airing on 105.9 FM in October.


Also see the following comment from a listener who also understands the duplicity of the WNYC Board Of Directors:

"The arrogance and duplicity of Laura Walker and the WNYC board has to be admired for it’s brazen contempt of the classical music public in metro NY. When the city sold WNYC to its current owners, the purchase was predicated on keeping WNYC as a classical music station. The fundraising focused exclusively on the strength of the WNYC signal and its tradition of broadcasting classical music NOTWITHSTANDING the known low levels of “listenership”.

"I still have my memento paperweight thanking me for helping to buy the “mortgage” that purportedly hung over the newly independent WNYC. When the WNYC board held its infamous closed door meeting to “adjust” the format and diminish music on the station it gave in to the quest for increased “listenership” despite the dishonorable betrayal of long time supporters. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to know classical music doesn’t pay it’s way. WNCN at 104.3 was killed because of this and it’s location on the dial and signal strength. Rock (which I love) on 104.3 was and is more lucrative than classical music. But the NCN switch was not never defined as anything but money. WNYC was purchased amid the fanfare of a noble cause, i.e., saving classical music in NY.

"The same argument is being used presumably because the “big lie” works. If there was an ounce of integrity in the people in charge of WNYC they would transfer the current NYC programming to the “new QXR” and restore classical music to its rightful primacy on WNYC. But that would result in a loss of “listenership”. So money wins, Surprise? Kudos to Channel 13 for having confronted this beast and come out honorably bruised. WNYC lost its honor and integrity years ago and now arrogantly claims to come to the rescue of classical music. This brazen contempt for the public is what is most amazing since it seems to succeed. Foundations finance it. These people are masterful politicians. That is not a compliment."

-- Ron
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