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Iconic NYC Radio Station WBAI Shuts Down Suddenly in Funding Crunch

WBAI 99.5 FM laid off its entire staff; its parent company, the Pacifica Foundation, cited "serious and persistent financial losses"

One of New York City's most iconic radio stations, and one of the country's loudest progressive voices, shut down original programming on Monday amid a funding crunch that left it deeply in debt. 

Brooklyn-based WBAI 99.5 FM laid off its entire staff. Its parent, The Pacifica Foundation, cited "serious and persistent financial losses" that left the station calling on its sister stations to meet payroll and expenses. 

The foundation said WBAI would instead carry what it calls the "Pacifica Across America Network," with best-of programming from the foundation's other four stations around the country. 

"I am grateful for the opportunity to have been part of the station. This is a big loss for NYC," Jeff Simmons, who hosted multiple shows on the station, tweeted.

New York Attorney General Letitia James also took notice of the station's closing, saying it was a huge loss for local news.

"This is deeply disappointing and I hope this station is relaunched," she tweeted.

The station had been fighting financial difficulties for years, including a multimillion-dollar judgement over unpaid rent for its Empire State Building transmitter. 

WBAI joined Pacifica in 1960 after being donated to the foundation by a philanthropist.

As of fiscal 2017, the last year for which audited financials are available, the station listed about $263,000 in assets and about $7.5 million in liabilities. 

Cerebral Radio CBRTalk is one of 300 plus Pacifica Network affiliated stations.