Portsmouth WSCA radio is looking for a new broadcast location

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PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth Community Radio is looking for a new broadcast location due to a lack of heating and other building health and safety issues at its Islington Street station.

106.1 WSCA, the non-profit volunteer municipal radio station on the air since 2004, is in discussions with a few municipal owners about a possible permanent relocation.

Nicole Seaward, president of WSCA and chair of its board, said the building has been without central heating or air since August, recently forcing a disc jockey to quit and a number of programs to postpone shows because of the cold. However, the director of the company that owns the building at 909 Islington Street which houses the station, said heating fixes could soon be on the way and he hopes WSCA stays.

“These are unacceptable working conditions,” said Seaward, who noted the property manager repeatedly said a heating system was coming. “It’s easy to shut us down because we’re a non-profit organization. Maybe they think we don’t have the ability to do anything about it, but I think they’ve taken that for granted for too long, and I think that’s one of the reasons why we are ready to go. We don’t want to shame anyone, but we die on the branch, if you will.

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Owned by 909 Islington Street LLC, Seaward says the building’s property manager, not the direct owner, has contacted it in recent months about various construction issues, including mold, ceiling tiles and insulation falling through and vermin droppings, but the problems have not been solved.

She also claimed that there was no running hot water in the building and that the water was not drinkable as it was yellow, which forced the volunteers to drink only bottled water. . She further reported that there is very little water pressure, adding that the toilet cannot be flushed and clogs easily.

The building that houses WSCA 106.1, Portsmouth Community Radio, has had no central heating or air since August, in addition to other maintenance issues that are impacting station operations.  The chairman of the WSCA board says their landlord has not responded to requests for help.

A 15-year veteran of the station, Seaward has been adamant that Portsmouth Community Radio will not close despite the position it finds itself in. Maybe it’s time to move on.

“We are not going to close. I’m too passionate to let this stop and I’m sure we’ll pass this challenge if we have a lot of dedicated and passionate people in our corner,” she said.

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There are 23 programs listed on the WSCA website, but with some calls due to the cold temperatures inside, a 24-hour automatic deejay is sometimes used to fill in the gaps. On-air programs range from rock n’ roll, indie rock, jazz, blues, folk and metal, as well as local and regional news, talk shows, comedy and more.

Courtney Daniel, host of WSCA’s “Soul Sessions” show and board member, said she put on a coat, hat and gloves inside the studio for her program until she recently decided to stop going there because of the “unbearable” craving. heat.

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At the WSCA, due to the conditions and the pandemic, live broadcasts on the station’s small stage, film screenings, podcast productions and other “revenue generators” are on hold, already limiting cash inflows.

“We have thousands of dollars worth of equipment that needs to be kept at a certain temperature or it could be damaged. We can’t afford that to happen,” Daniel said.

Courtney Daniel, show host

“Each week, I look forward to chatting with listeners, playing great music, and connecting with the community,” she continued. “We are all volunteers and when our work space has been compromised by vermin, mould, little or no water pressure to use the toilets and scorching or freezing (temperatures), you have to make a (decision). We shouldn’t have to choose.”

Using a handful of heaters, some program hosts continued to broadcast despite the recently freezing temperatures, although others were calling. This week, Seaward said a deal between WSCA and a contract client to record a ten-episode podcast inside the station fell through due to the cold interior.

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Seaward said a municipal inspection of the space took place last Thursday, Jan. 13, and the temperature inside was around 45 degrees.

When she entered the building earlier last week from an outside temperature of around 20 degrees, Seaward said WSCA’s interior didn’t feel warmer.

“I’m super grateful that our deejays have continued to show off,” she said.

Building owner manager says heating is on and wants WSCA to stay

King Weinstein, director of 909 Islington Street LLC and broker with Real Estate King, said a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system could be shipped this week or next “at the latest”, but would require a crane system to put it in place on the roof of the building.

The search across the country to find an HVAC system has been prolonged due to the pandemic, understaffing and lack of metal. Weinstein said the vendor providing the system told him there were currently six-month waiting periods for CVCs.

“We finally located it and we need to get a huge crane,” Weinstein said.

The building that houses WSCA 106.1, Portsmouth Community Radio, has had no central heating or air since August, in addition to other maintenance issues that are impacting station operations.

Public property records maintained by the city show that 909 Islington Street, last valued at $2.645 million, was sold to Weinstein’s company in July 2004 for $1.3 million. The one-story brick building, which spans 36,370 square feet in its entirety, was built in 1910.

Although it also has an office on Brewery Lane, King Real Estate’s Old Orchard Beach office is at the same address as the Islington Street LLC building location.

Seaward said all interactions she has had with King Real Estate about the property are through a property manager and have not been directly with Weinstein.

Portsmouth Community Radio’s rent, Seaward said, is $1,500 a month for about 1,500 square feet of space. While acknowledging that the cleanliness of the space and some interior maintenance depend on station volunteers, she said issues that impact WSCA’s operations are the direct responsibility of the property owner.

The building that houses WSCA 106.1, Portsmouth Community Radio, has had no central heating or air since August, in addition to other maintenance issues that are impacting station operations.

“Every response we got was, ‘We’ll fix it,’ and then it never gets done,” she said of her interactions with the property manager. “I am a little lost. I don’t want people to keep coming like this.

Except for reports of vermin in the building, for which he said an exterminator was called, Weinstein said other maintenance issues were not brought to his attention. Against Seaward, he said other issues inside the WSCA station space fall on its inhabitants.

“We’re doing our best, but we’re dealing with people, COVID everywhere, trying to get equipment,” he said.

Weinstein added that WSCA’s work is “certainly a great public service.”

“We would like them to stay. They have been our tenants,” he said. “We helped support (WSCA), we helped start it, we support them every month with subsidized rent.”

Nicole Seaward, WSCA president and chair of the board, has heating and maintenance issues at the station's headquarters.

Before COVID-19 hit the scene, Seaward said the WSCA aired more than 40 programs, a number that has dwindled as the pandemic dragged on. While she and other volunteers would like to see the station continue its life on the air at its current location and are saddened by the current state of the building, Seaward said the WSCA has come to the point where its lifespan would be best prolonged in a new house.

“It’s not right,” she said of the construction issues. “It’s black and white, it’s not good. »

The WSCA board will discuss the possibility of a permanent move at its meeting this week.

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