Benton Harbor — February 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Nonprofit group looks to help Benton Harbor citizens buy city radio station – for themselves


There IS goodness in the world

[NOTE: I have edited the title of this piece because PRC does not actually purchase radio stations or licenses themselves. They help other groups to do this.]

Laura Conaway at The Maddow Blog reports in a piece called “The Silencing of Benton Harbor, Michigan” that a private non-profit called Public Radio Capital is looking to help keep Benton Harbor’s city radio station in the hands of the people of Benton Harbor.

As of Saturday afternoon, the auction of the public’s station had drawn three bids, with — I think — two from actor and human rights activist Ben Patrick Johnson. Right after eBay posted the third bid, of $5,200, the listing disappeared.

What gives? Eclectablog, where Chris Savage has been covering the story, sends over a comment on one of his posts in which someone suggests that you can’t sell an FCC radio license without permission from the FCC. An industry site called Radio Info reports the same, writing that “the FCC must approve any transfer.”

Another group following the story, the nonprofit Public Radio Capital, provides support for acquiring and building public radio stations. Erik Langner says Benton Harbor’s license cannot be sold and transferred on eBay. Instead, Langner says anyone interested in the station would have to go through the usual procedures at the FCC, like proving the new owner is based in Benton Harbor and not out to make a buck.

Public Radio Capital already gathered the listed price of WBHC and would like to help keep the station going. “We want to make it possible for a local nonprofit to buy it,” Langner says.
[Emphasis mine]

From PRC’s “About” page:

Public Radio Capital’s mission is to strengthen and expand public media to provide local communities nationwide with more in-depth information, unbiased news, diverse music and cultural programming. Founded in 2001, PRC has led its clients through more than $270 million in radio transactions, securing public radio access for 59 million people.

PRC has worked with more than 200 public media organizations, ranging from first time station owners to the largest, multi-channel public radio station owners in the country. We help public media to buy and finance new channels, preserve existing public radio outlets, and strengthen their organizations and services.

PRC is the only nonprofit in the nation that focuses on expanding the capacity and asset base of public radio. We are currently supported by major grants from the Argosy Foundation, Ford Foundation and Surdna Foundation, and other philanthropic investors.

This may be as close to angels on earth as I’ve heard of in a long time. If you have thoughts about what group might be in a position to take on the responsibility of hosting a community radio station in Benton Harbor, contact me and I’ll put you in touch with Mr. Langner who has reached out to me.

[CC Photo credit: Flickr user gak]