Buffalo stations talk about . . . seeing more of each other
In Buffalo, N.Y., the two major pubcasters began talks Feb. 22  about their futures. Or could that be their singular “future” together?
“Each licensee thinks it’s a good idea to explore potential ways to strengthen public radio,” says Joe Brennan, communications v.p. for the University at Buffalo, operator of WBFO-FM. “We don’t really have any predetermined notions.”
On the other side of the table is the community nonprofit licensee for WNED-AM/FM/TV. Both parties referred calls to Brennan. Tom Thomas of pubradio’s Station Resource Group will act as facilitator, Brennan said.
WNED suggested talks last summer, though Brennan says the university has been in planning mode and probably would have called WNED before long.
Brennan offers no specifics about the mutual attraction, but at least two factors clearly favor some kind of hookup:
- Both are running news stations — WNED against greater odds, using an AM signal, while WBFO uses an FM station whose signal and tower were upgraded in 2008. WBFO’s audience is about twice as big as WNED-AM’s.
- WBUO’s parent, the University at Buffalo — the largest campus in the State University of New York system — and is looking for places to pull in its belt, like most state universities.
The university now puts up almost three-fourths of WBFO’s budget. Brennan said the university spends about $900,000 in cash and makes in-kind contributions of $500,000 toward the station’s budget of about $2 million.
WBFO’s acting manager is Mark Vogelzang, former head of Vermont Public Radio, who took the job in November after finishing a temporary assignment at NPR. He’s filling in after the university promoted WBFO’s previous manager, Carol Smith Petro, to associate v.p., working to increase its involvement in regional economic development.
Web page posted March 15, 2010
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