Southampton public radio station WPPB 88.3 FM may dig its roots deeper into Southampton Village if plans to move into the Southampton Center at 25 Jobs Lane—the former Parrish Art Museum—gain support.
As the museum transitions to its new space in Water Mill, the Southampton Center’s Founders Committee is considering leasing out part of the village-owned building to the radio station. Mayor Mark Epley, who set up the committee, said he hopes the station can one day be an integral part of the new arts and cultural center planned there.
“Mark made it clear there’s a long road to walk, and we’re very interested in going on that walk,” said Dr. Wally Smith, the station’s general manager.
Although the staff at Peconic Public Broadcasting and members of the Founders Committee are still in the “early talking stages,” the move could be a win-win for both entities.
Mayor Epley said he thinks the center would benefit from serving as the radio’s home, since it is expected to play host to performances of all kinds. He said it was too early to say what the village would charge in rent.
“There would be a 24-hour, built-in media and marketing component to the building,” he said. “Everything you do, someone is always going to be talking about it.”
At the same time, the space would mean a permanent home for the radio station, which currently is located next to the village Building Department headquarters off Hill Street—a temporary location until the station can build a new, state-of-the-art headquarters.
Since the station moved out of Chancellors Hall on the Stony Brook Southampton campus in 2010, just after the radio station successfully acquired the license to operate on 88.3 FM, Dr. Smith said it was known that the space on Hill Street wouldn’t hold its staff for long. “We left a first-rate broadcast facility,” he said. “When we had to move [to the Hill Street location], we had to move quickly. We’re very happy with the temporary space, but we moved there realizing that, sometime in the future, we would go back and rebuild really high-quality production and office facilities.”
Mayor Epley said he and Dr. Smith envision a live-broadcast booth where visitors could watch live radio shows and be a part of what is going on. In other words, the station would bring even more foot traffic to Jobs Lane and the nearby business district, and a higher profile for the station.
“Twelve months out of the year, there would be activity inside the building,” the mayor said. “They’re going to be a great partner. I have full intention of including these guys in design and layout.”
Of course, before anything can happen, the 115-year-old building must undergo renovation, which requires financial support—an endeavor that the committee is currently working on by securing donations. Likewise, the radio station would need to run a capital campaign to raise funds for the move and the purchase of new electronic equipment.
In the meantime, Dr. Smith said if the station is going to be a tenant, officials might start looking at designs for the space inside the old Parrish building. “It will, by its location, make us more and more a part of the community,” he said. “It’s a lot of work to do, but the nice thing is having the option to be there, which we think is very important.”
It’s not easy to say when the station could move into the building, but Dr. Smith said officials are hoping to relocate within three to five years, anyway.
“If they’re an integral part of what we do at 25 Jobs Lane, then we’ve taken a community-owned radio station and secured its future for a very long time,” the mayor said.