Peconic Public Broadcasting, which successfully bid $850,000 on WLIU 88.3 FM earlier this year to buy it from Long Island University in a move supporters hoped would secure the station's future, now needs to raise more than $500,000 by Aug. 31 to keep it, according to the broadcasting company.
"We're struggling to save our lives," said Wally Smith, the station's general manager Thursday.
LIU put the radio station's license up for sale last August because it was losing more than $1 million each year to run it. The grass-roots organization then formed to save the station, offering $850,000 in a bidding process.
June 30 was the agreed deadline by which PPB was to have paid the outstanding $500,000, but after an appeal from the station, the university extended the date, Smith said.
"Obviously, there's a substantial amount of money that they still have to raise," said Paola Curcio-Kleinman, LIU's associate vice president for marketing and public relations. Aug. 31 will remain the firm deadline, she said.
LIU will offer the station's license to an unidentified second bidder if the deal is not completed by then, but if that happens automated programming from NPR, PRI, and JazzWorks would run until that bidder took control, Curcio-Kleinman said.
"If one looks at it, $500,000 in the scheme of things is not a huge number," Smith said, "but it's a big number when you are whittling away at it." About $350,000 has already been raised, said Smith, who has 40 years' experience managing public radio stations. It's hoped community support and bank loans will enable the nonprofit to pull through, he added.
A Facebook page for Save Public Radio on the East End, a staff-driven movement with volunteers, extended a plea Wednesday for donations from its 442 fans.