PROPOSES WNYE TO WNYC: WHAT ARE WE LOSING?
Saturday at noon, 12-year-old Katerina Taketzis and 15-year-old
Amalia Dedousis produce and host a show called Cosmos Kids on
Cosmos FM (WNYE-91.5 FM). For the past two years, they have shared
a creative half-hour during which they and other children their
age perform original stories, sing, and talk about sports, music,
fashion, movies, and growing up Greek. But if the seven members
of the NYC Board of Education approve Chancellor Harold Levy’s
proposal for a Lease Management Agreement (LMA) that will transfer
management of WNYE-FM to WNYC Radio, Inc., the voices of Katerina
and Amalia and many other children will most certainly disappear
from the airwaves.
Cosmos FM is one of many ethnic and independent programs that
call WNYE, a radio station owned and operated by the NYC Board
of Education (BOE), their home.
According to Victoria Streitseld, a spokesperson for the BOE,
“[The LMA] is an option that is being considered when it comes
to the future of the station.” She could not disclose the terms
of the agreement, but producers of ethnic programs such as Cosmos
FM on WNYE announced at a press conference that the lease is for
ten years and that there will be no financial gain to the BOE.
In fact, after the ten years are up, the BOE will have to pay
to get the station back. Furthermore, the ethnic and independent
producers have not received written assurance that their programs
will be preserved if WNYC Radio, Inc. becomes the new operator
let’s say they do lease us some time,” said Dedousis. “They are
probably going to make it very expensive.” Hence, opposition to
the LMA is great.
is a crime to society,” said Elena Maroulleti, producer and host
of Aktina FM,
a bilingual live call-in Greek-American Magazine Show on WNYE.
“The ethnic programs are addressing the needs of everybody,
especially the children.” According to Maroulleti, WNYE’s ethnic
programs—Greek, Haitian, Polish, Macedonian, Bosnian, French,
Ukrainian, Croatian, and others–are a vital link between immigrant
families and their
native lands, and also teach the public about other cultures.
The programs on WNYE also serve students and professors of foreign
languages whom might not otherwise have access to a language as
it is spoken in the native country. For example, French teachers
rely on Radio France International broadcasts, which can be heard
live from Paris each night. “[It helps them] perfect their knowledge
of the French language and society. This eventually makes better
foreign language students,” said Pascal Bourdon, from the French
consulate. “The knowledge of foreign languages in this country
is not so huge that the tools that encourage [learning them] can
be so easily discarded,” he added.
Moreover, the BOE has not had to interrupt programs to solicit
money from listeners thanks to the ethnic producers. “Seventy
percent of funding for 91.5 FM comes from the ethnic producers,”
said Trevor Wilkins, producer and host of a calypso music show
In an effort to preserve the current management of WNYE and to
save their programs from being silenced, a coalition of ethnic
producers has launched an email and letter campaign to Ninfa Segarra,
President of the BOE. “Thousands of letters have already arrived
but we need more,” said Marouletti. Comptroller and mayoral candidate
Alan Hevesi, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, and
other tri-state area politicians have already written letters
to Segarra asking her to ensure that WNYE’s programs will continue
even under new management.
Program producers believe that Levy wants to contain costs, improve
programming, and increase the audience of WNYE-FM and WNYE-TV,
a radio and television station established in 1938 and 1949, respectively,
to provide educational and cultural programs for the city’s children,
parents, and teachers.
Although the producers consider this a noble intention, they also
believe that New York City children stand to lose a valuable resource
if the Board accepts the LMA, because WNYC, a classical music
station with programming from NPR and PRI, has no experience in
producing educational programs or working directly with the community.
contact information and links to program websites, go to www.wnye.nycenet.edu.
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