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WPFW-FM will not be moving to Silver Spring.
That news should come as a relief to the group of programmers, supporters, and listeners who, since earlier this spring, have been agitating to end a deal that would have moved the progressive “jazz and justice” station into a studio space on Colesville Road leased by a subsidiary of Clear Channel, the country’s largest radio company.
WPFW still has to leave its current home in Adams Morgan by May 25—-but in an announcement today, Summer Reese, the executive director of WPFW’s parent Pacifica Foundation, writes:
The Washington DC, Pacifica Radio Station, WPFW will soon be relocating; with-in the DC Area. The current studios,long in the Washington DC, Adams Morgan neighborhood; must move to make way for a new building. The new location has yet to be finalized at this time, but the Pacifica Foundation would like to announce that a proposed site in the Silver Springs neighborhood is no longer being considered. Pacifica proudly acknowledges our loyal DC Area Family, that has loved and supported your community radio station, WPFW and our mission in the DC Area, for so many years. We are sorry for any inconvenience that this relocation might cause, but we pledge to stay on the air, and to be a valuable and growing part of our DC Area Community.
While opponents of the Silver Spring move have argued against it at station meetings, denounced it on the air, and protested outside the prospective location, the landlord itself had also been hesitant to execute the lease. Pacifica signed a sublease with the Clear Channel affiliate, Total Traffic Network, last December, but the landlord never approved it. Last month, several managers at WPFW and Pacifica said the delay concerned Pacifica’s finances and corporate status, which was briefly suspended earlier this year. Still, Reese said last month that she regretted signing the sublease and hoped to pull out of the deal.
In the end, she didn’t have to. According to Yves Point du Jour, the chair of WPFW’s listener-elected Local Station Board, the landlord pulled the plug on the Silver Spring move, not Pacifica. “Even though Clear Channel wanted us there, the final say rested with the building owner,” he says. A call to David Bevirt, the regional vice president of leasing at Brookfield Office Properties, which owns 8403 Colesville Road, didn’t yield much clarity. “That type of information is withheld,” Bevirt says.
So where is WPFW going? Point du Jour says Pacifica is close to inking a deal to temporarily move WPFW to Ventana Productions, a video production company located at 1819 L St. NW that is one of several locations the station has considered.
As for a permanent spot, Point du Jour says that the search continues.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery