21
May
10

Burlington Free Press Gives Props To LP Radio

BURLINGTON FREE PRESS Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Brent Hallenbeck

The airwaves in Vermont in recent years have increasingly been turned over to the vox populi — the voice of the people.

Community-radio stations have mushroomed in numbers in the state during the past decade, giving volunteers a chance to play music, talk about current events or simply entertain listeners within close range of the generally low-powered stations.
“It’s an environment for people to pick the skills up to be broadcasters,” said James Lockridge, who oversees the Burlington-based music resource Big Heavy World and worked with Radio Bean owner Lee Anderson to put the community-radio station known as “The Radiator” on the air three years ago.

Community radio, though, is about more than boosting the public’s on-air abilities. It’s about presenting music and thoughts that might not make it onto commercial-radio stations. On-air personalities generally choose the content of their shows (within the guidelines for language set by the Federal Communications Commission) and operate in a radio world free from the interruptions of advertising or the commercial demands of a for-profit business.

“We’re giving voice to people and ideas that aren’t ordinarily heard through the mainstream media,” said Greg Hooker, general manager of the granddaddy of all community-radio stations in Vermont, WGDR-FM (91.1) at Goddard College in Plainfield. “I like to think the pendulum is swinging back to the media being more relevant when they’re local.”

Community radio is thriving in Vermont even as other options for communications and information — commercial radio, newspapers, television and online social networking — remain strong or continue to grow. That’s not surprising to Lockridge, who said The Radiator’s programming ranges from world music to a show about autism to hard-core punk.

“It’s one of those things that just feels natural,” he said. “There’s value in community members speaking to community members.”

Other stations follow similar nonprofit, noncommercial approaches, most notably college-radio stations such as WRUV-FM (90.1) at the University of Vermont and WWPV-FM (88.7) at St. Michael’s College (WGDR began as a college station but became a community-radio station after the college ended its residential program in 2002). The following five stations, though, are open to public involvement and the public’s ears:

STATION: WOMM, “The Radiator,” 105.9 FM
LOCATION: Burlington
FIRST YEAR ON AIR: 2007
WATTS: 100
BROADCAST RADIUS: Downtown Burlington, adjacent towns
NUMBER OF VOLUNTEERS: More than 70
INFORMATION: 865-1140, www.theradiator.org.

STATION: WGDR, 91.1 FM
LOCATION: Goddard College, Plainfield
FIRST YEAR ON AIR: 1973
WATTS: 920
BROADCAST RADIUS: 20 to 25 miles
NUMBER OF VOLUNTEERS: 65 on-air, 100 total
INFORMATION: 454-7367, www.wgdr.org

STATION: WVEW, Brattleboro Community Radio, 107.7 FM
LOCATION: Brattleboro
FIRST YEAR ON AIR: 2006
WATTS: 100
BROADCAST RADIUS: Three to five miles
NUMBER OF VOLUNTEERS: 56
INFORMATION: 246-6107, www.wvew.org

STATION: WMRW, 95.1 FM
LOCATION: Warren
FIRST YEAR ON AIR: 2003
WATTS: 100
BROADCAST RADIUS: Waterbury (north), Granville (south), Montpelier (east), Lincoln (west)
NUMBER OF VOLUNTEERS: 53
INFORMATION: 496-4951, www.wmrw.org

STATION: WOOL, “Black Sheep Radio,” 100.1 FM
LOCATION: Bellows Falls
FIRST YEAR ON AIR: 2005
WATTS: 100
BROADCAST RADIUS: North to Ascutney, south to Brattleboro, west to Grafton, east to Marlow, N.H.
NUMBER OF VOLUNTEERS: 60
INFORMATION: 460-9665 (WOOL), www.wool.fm

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