KPFA Could Be Collateral Damage in WBAI Tower Lease Lawsuit

KPFA-FM, Berkeley, CA is at risk of being dragged further into the Pacifica Foundation’s financial woes. The station says its future is uncertain.

Parent Pacifica owes close to $2 million to Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT) for back tower lease payments for sister station WBAI-FM, New York City, Inside Towers reported. ESRT sued Pacifica in each state where the network operates. In October 2017, a New York Supreme Court awarded ESRT a judgement of more than $1.8 million.

After a waiting period ends on January 8, ESRT can begin seizing Pacifica’s assets, reported Berkelyside.com. That could include Pacifica’s five stations, buildings and bank accounts. In an email to KPFA staff, GM Quincy McCoy called the situation “grim.”  

A statement on the KPFA website says: “The current financial problem at Pacifica is not of our making. The Pacifica National Board (PNB) has yet to take decisive action to protect the assets of the foundation, leaving the future of the network uncertain.

Pacifica’s Interim Executive Director Bill Crosier urged the PNB to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy “to stop collection efforts immediately. It would give us time to repay our debt,” he said on KPFA. However a majority of PNB board members disagree because of the $1 million filing cost, according to Berkelyside.com.

The PNB voted to begin preparing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. A property sale or a potential signal swap has been discussed too. WBAI, KPFA or KPFK might sell their signals to larger stations in exchange for stations with smaller coverage areas to pay down the debt, according to the statement on the KPFA website.

Currently, there is no PNB action plan “articulated by the national leadership to staff,” according to the statement on the KPFA site. “Unless action is taken pretty immediately, we may cease to exist.”

January 5, 2018     

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