The silencing of Benton Harbor, ct’d


We’ve heard from the state-appointed emergency manager in Benton Harbor, Michigan, who had been using his unilateral authority to sell the city’s publicly owned radio station on eBay for $5,000. The posting for the license and the equipment were removed on Saturday, after three bids, likely because any sale of the license would have to go through the usual process at the FCC. By law, the license can transfer only to a Benton Harbor nonprofit or government entity.

Emergency manager Joe Harris tells us that he has interested buyers and expects to sell the station this week. The license expires in October, and he writes that in any case, “we will not let the license lapse. We have reason to believe it can be put to good use.” Future broadcasts by WBHC would not come from Benton Harbor City Hall, he says.

He wouldn’t yet give details about the potential buyers. Two of the three bids on eBay appear to have come from actor and human rights activist Ben Patrick Johnson. Another group, the nonprofit Public Radio Capital, did not bid on eBay but says it would like to help a local nonprofit buy the station. Erik Langner, director of acquisitions, tells us he has been reaching out to the emergency manager and others in Benton Harbor. Yesterday he was interviewed by the ABC station in nearby South Bend, Indiana – that clip’s up top.

If we hear more, we’ll let you know.

(Friday’s TRMS segment)


The silencing of Benton Harbor, ct'd