Citizen board opposes public radio station’s sale

By Angie Francalancia

For the first time since the sale of WXEL-FM 90.7 was announced six months ago, the
public broadcasting station’s Citizens Advisory Board had a chance to tell its board of trustees why the members and the community oppose the sale.

The board of trustees met Sept. 23 for its annual meeting. It was the first time the board met since its April 20 special meeting in which it approved the station’s sale by Barry University to Classical South Florida.

Citizens Advisory Board President Pablo del Real, who had asked for time on the agenda to speak, reminded the trustees that having a citizen’s advisory board is a requirement of its license.

“It’s supposed to operate as a conduit for community input,” he told the board. “It’s
difficult to advise someone on a decision after they have made that decision.”

Del Real told the trustees that the advisory board opposes the sale because the new
owners wouldn’t be local, they’d move to an all-music format rather than community programs, and the sale would split the licenses of the radio station from the public television station, WXEL TV.

The transfer of the station’s license to buyer Classical South Florida must be approved by both the state Department of Education and the Federal Communications Commission.

The license transfer is anticipated to be on the DOE’s agenda at its Dec. 17 meeting, which will be held in Miami. The location has not been identified, said a department spokeswoman.

The Citizens Advisory Board told the trustees it had the same concerns as those raised in past months by the DOE, including the position that the broadcasting license is a public asset and that “Barry is profiting from the sale of a public asset,” del Real said.

Pat Meehan of the law firm Holland Knight, which represents the trustees in the sale, said the trustees had addressed all the concerns raised by the DOE, adding that the lawyer who described the station as a public trust “was misguided.”

James Roth, a West Palm Beach resident who opposes the sale, said he’s forming a
grass-roots group to fight it, called SOSWXEL.

Last month, the Boynton Beach City Commission sent a letter to the DOE expressing
concern about the potential loss of community programs and loss of jobs in the city. Boynton Beach deeded the land on S. Congress Avenue that is home to WXEL specifically for the community to have a non-profit public voice, said City Commissioner Bill Orlove.

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