WNET, the nation’s flagship PBS station, has completed the acquisition of WPPB, a National Public Radio member station based in Southampton, from Peconic Public Broadcasting, its owner and operator. The price, according to an October report by the nonprofit news service Current, is “more than $940,000.”
WNET is the parent company of Thirteen (Channel 13, the popular PBS station) and WLIW, a PBS member station based in Garden City. It also operates NJTV, New Jersey’s public television network.
WPPB’s call letters are to be changed to WLIW in the coming months, according to a statement WNET issued on Friday. With the purchase, which was approved by the Federal Communications Commission and the New York State attorney general’s office, WLIW becomes a dual licensee, operating a PBS television station and an NPR radio station.
Wally Smith, WPPB’s general manager, will become the station’s general manager emeritus. WPPB broadcasts a wide variety of programming, including “Long Island Morning Edition” hosted by Michael Mackey, “Heart of the East End,” a morning show hosted by Gianna Volpe, “The Afternoon Ramble” hosted by Brian Cosgrove, and “The Urban Jazz Experience” and “Friday Night Soul,” both hosted by Ed German.
“What it really means,” Mr. Smith said Monday of WPPB’s acquisition, “is that after struggling, as we have over time, we will have a mature organization behind us. That should help take all of that pressure off of us about whether we’ll be in business the next day.” He added, “It does seem very clear — although they have the right to change their minds — that all current staff will be hired by them to continue their work.”
Mr. Smith said he is “grateful for my new title,” which he said would allow him to continue “helping build the station in the community, and begin to strengthen management in the day-to-day operation, which I’ll still be involved in.”
The acquisition, Mr. Smith said, follows a trend of dual licensees that pair a PBS television station with an NPR radio station. In a 2016 series, Current explored such public television-radio partnerships, which it found can foster innovative collaboration in content development and cross-promotional and shared resource opportunities. They can encourage content creation for multiple platforms, for example, including television and radio as well as new media and social media. Mergers can also be challenging, the series concluded, for example in aligning disparate equipment, infrastructure, or fund-raising strategies.
“There is some benefit of that, making it better for each,” Mr. Smith said of a merger. “Rather than competing with each other, being part of a single organization.”