A group trying to launch a local community radio station is now recruiting volunteers and raising funds.
WAUP 91.5 FM, which received its permit from the Federal Communications Commission in November 2010, plans to be on the air by November 2013.
“Our biggest need right now, besides fundraising, is to get the word out,” said Mark Gerlach, president of WAUP’s board of directors. “We need a lot of volunteers, both on the air and behind the scenes, to pull this off.”
Gerlach and other board members want the radio station to reflect the interests and musical tastes of the local community.
“All of the airwaves belong to the public, even those used by commercial stations. But the public has very little say in what is broadcast,” Gerlach said. “Community radio is a way to empower people and teach them how to broadcast.”
They will train volunteers how to operate the equipment. And the volunteers will have a major role in determining the content of their own airtime.
Gerlach expects to see a broader variety of music than is usually heard on commercial radio. He said the type of music that is aired on WAUP – whether it is jazz, folk, world music or recordings of local bands – will depend on the tastes of the volunteers who produce the shows.
“It will be like the old days when a DJ came into the station and selected and played the songs,” Gerlach said.
“We’ll also be training volunteers on the FCC rules for a community station,” according to board member Diane Berge. “There can be no profanity, and you can’t use your position as an announcer to sell anything or use your airtime to promote a political agenda.”
In addition to music, WAUP hopes to have community discussion shows on a wide variety of topics, such as health care, gardening, school news, local history and local clubs.
“We want to give people an opportunity to be part of a community voice,” said Marcel Van Camp.
Under its community radio station permit, WAUP must air at least eight hours per day of locally produced programming. The station’s goal is to be on the air 12 hours per day, seven days per week.
WAUP initially planned to locate its antenna near the truck stop in Waupaca. Because WAUP must protect the signal integrity of existing stations in Wausau and Green Bay, the station needs to use a directional antenna.
However, after Andy Disterhaft, the station engineer, reviewed the application, it was decided to co-locate the transmission antenna to an existing tower at Stratton Lake West roads in the town of Dayton. The approved braodcast power is at 3,900 watts.
“By moving to a new location, the antenna will need less shielding,” Gerlach said. “We’re going to hit a lot more people than we originally thought.”
An estimated 30,000 people live within WAUP’s broadcast area, Gerlalch said. The signal will reach into Waupaca, Portage and Waushara counties.
Gerlalch said WAUP’s board plans to begin holding fundraising events in June. The goal is to raise $200,000 for construction and start-up costs. After the station is on the air, about $100,000 will be needed annually for operations.
Go to www.waupfm.org for more information about the station and about how to become a volunteer or a donor.