WNYC Radio Purchases WQXR from The New York Times, Preserving a Station Dedicated to Classical Music on the NYC Airwaves

WNYC Radio Purchases WQXR from The New York Times,
Preserving a Station Dedicated to Classical Music on the NYC Airwaves

With a $5 Million Challenge Grant from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation
WQXR to Move from 96.3FM to 105.9FM

Station Launches The Campaign to Preserve Classical Music Radio in New York City

Press contact: Jennifer Houlihan / WNYC Director, Publicity (646) 829-4497 / jhoulihan@wnyc.org

(New York, NY -- July 14, 2009) – Laura Walker, the President and CEO, and Herb Scannell, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of WNYC AM/FM, the nation’s largest public radio station, today announced the acquisition of WQXR and 105.9 FM from The New York Times, enabling New York City’s only dedicated classical music station to continue to serve New York City.

As part of the transaction, which was announced in a joint statement today 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. At the same time, WNYC will purchase the FCC broadcast license for 105.9 FM, all related transmitting equipment, and WQXR’s call letters and Web site from the Times Company for $11.5 million. Through the acquisition, WNYC will preserve WQXR’s 73 year classical music format, and move it to 105.9 FM.

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, along with WNYC Board members Nicki Tanner and Martha Fleischman. The Campaign will assist with the purchase and ongoing operation of the station. The Jerome L. Greene Foundation, the Campaign’s lead donor, has agreed to a $5 million challenge grant, based on 1-to-1 pledges from other individuals, foundations and corporations. The Jerome L. Greene Foundation previously set a philanthropic record for the largest single gift to a public radio station of $6 million, which was recognized in the naming of The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space -- the station’s recently-opened street-level broadcast studio and performance venue. Additional contributions totaling close to $2 million have been pledged by members of the WNYC Board of Trustees including a generous commitment of $1 million toward the Foundation’s match offered by Bernard and Anne Spitzer.

“As one of the world’s leading and most dynamic musical cities, New York deserves its own dedicated classical music station,” said Laura Walker, President and Chief Executive Officer of WNYC. “For generations, WQXR has made classical music available free to millions, and has infused the concert hall experience into the daily lives of New Yorkers. We are delighted to continue this tradition and to extend WNYC’s own 85-year commitment to classical music and the arts. We look forward to building a powerful and vibrant classical music experience for millions of people on the radio, on the internet and in our new performance space. ”

“Seven years ago, I was one of the voices calling for WNYC to preserve as much classical music as possible on its air,” said Emanuel Ax. “Today, I am happy to stand with WNYC as it carries off the sonic equivalent of saving Carnegie Hall from the wrecker’s ball by preserving WQXR as our sole all-classical music station. I know that all of my colleagues will rejoice in this wonderful and meaningful use of the airwaves, and I urge all of New York to embrace and support WNYC’s leap of faith.”

“The Jerome L. Greene Foundation is proud to support WNYC’s bold undertaking to preserve WQXR as a world-class classical music station,” said Dawn Greene, Mr. Greene’s widow and the President and CEO of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation. “Our foundation believes in supporting organizations that make significant contributions to the cultural and educational life of our City, and WQXR is unmatched in its ability to make classical music accessible to so many New Yorkers. Ensuring its continuation for generations to come would delight my late husband, who was so dedicated to supporting so many cultural and educational programs that made great music possible.”

As a part of the WNYC family, WQXR will be transformed into a public radio station. In contrast to the current WQXR commercial model, with its total reliance on advertising, the public radio model provides for a mix of funding through contributions from members and other individual donors, private foundations, city, state and federal entities and grants, and corporate underwriting. This will allow WQXR to remain a key connector between arts and cultural organizations and their audiences.

WNYC intends to continue two of WQXR’s most listened to live programs –Metropolitan Opera Radio Saturday Matinee Broadcasts and The Philharmonic This Week – on WQXR.

WQXR will begin airing on 105.9 FM in October. It will operate out of WNYC’s new facilities on Varick Street in Hudson Square and the signal will continue to broadcast from the Empire State Building.

Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera said, “We’re very happy that WQXR will remain a full-time classical music station and that it will continue to broadcast the Met’s Saturday Matinee Broadcasts, which have been heard on that station for more than four decades.”

Zarin Mehta, President and Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic said, “This is great news for classical music lovers, as well as all those who support the arts and culture in the City. WQXR has always been more than a classical music station – it is a destination on the radio dial where you can hear about a variety of cultural events throughout the City. WNYC is already an established and vital presence in the cultural life of New York City and is the ideal steward for this cultural icon.”

WNYC Radio is New York's premier public radio station, comprising WNYC 93.9 FM, WNYC AM 820 and www.wnyc.org. As America's most listened-to AM/FM public radio stations, reaching more than one million listeners every week, WNYC extends New York City's cultural riches to the entire country on-air and online, and presents the best national offerings from networks National Public Radio, Public Radio International and American Public Media. WNYC 93.9 FM broadcasts a wide range of daily news, talk, cultural and classical music programming, while WNYC AM 820 maintains a stronger focus on breaking news and international news reporting. In addition, WNYC produces content for live, radio and web audiences from The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, the station’s street-level multipurpose, multiplatform broadcast studio and performance space. For more information about WNYC, visit www.wnyc.org.

WNYC coverage of the WQXR acquisition

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