Format includes music, government meetings
By Angie Landsverk
A low-power FM radio station is the city of Waupaca’s latest effort to keep its citizens informed about local government.
Waupaca Radio is on the air at FM 96.3.
The station’s call letters are WILW, which stand for “I love Waupaca.”
“Our top priority will be public safety alerts,” said Joshua Werner, the city’s IT and communications specialist, during the station’s Thursday, July 16, open house and launch event.
The station will also broadcast Waupaca Common Council, Waupaca School Board and Waupaca County Board meetings and be available to other boards and committees as requested.
In addition, it will broadcast music and be available for use by area nonprofits, schools and community groups.
“Maybe we’ll even have a student-produced radio show this fall,” Werner said.
Groups will be encouraged to sign up for allotted time slots on a monthly or quarterly basis to record segments to later air, he said.
“We will keep a few slots open each week for one-time events or if they don’t want to be on regularly,” Werner said.
Programming will be mixed in during the day with music.
The station is operating 24/7, and its music includes polkas, classical, jazz and music of the 1950s to the 1990s at various times of the day.
The music lineup is meant to complement, not compete with, WDUX.
“I think it’s great to have a diverse mix of radio stations in the area,” Werner said.
The Morning Polka Show runs early each morning in a nod to local farmers since some say cows milk better to polka music. The polka hour is extended on Sunday.
People may visit www.waupaca.tv to view the complete program schedule.
Werner went before the Waupaca Common Council in 2014 and proposed the idea of starting a station.
Following the council’s approval to move forward with the idea, the city applied for a low-power FM radio station license and then secured a total of $7,855 in sponsorships, donations and grants to cover the station’s startup budget of $7,500.
More than $7,300 of the startup budget was for equipment, and most of that equipment is located on the Mount Tom Tower.
The top donors for the project were the Waupaca Area Community Foundation ($2,500), Waupaca Foundry ($1,500), Healthy Community, Healthy Youth ($1,250) and Cubic Design ($1,000).
Other businesses, nonprofits and civic organizations also contributed.
Werner said Waupaca is “proud to join a handful of city governments” operating such stations.
Waupaca Radio is being integrated into the city’s public access channel, Win-TV, which is celebrating 30 years this year.
The radio station is located in Win-TV’s same space, which is in the lower level of city hall.
Werner recommended seeking a permit for such a station due to uncertainty about the future of cable access television.
With public safety alerts the top priority of the station, he plans to meet with the city’s police and public works departments and also with local emergency management officials to teach a select few of them how to override the system during emergencies.
In addition to warnings about severe weather, this could also be necessary during public works emergencies or when there is a lost person, Werner said.
He said low power FM radio stations are inexpensive to operate.
In addition to Werner, Chris Johnson, Max Johnson and Mark Erdman are the local station’s certified operators.
The station is using automated programming software, and Werner said the three to five-mile radius around Mount Tom is where the station will penetrate best.
“The station is only going to be found on FM,” he said in response to questions from some about whether people may access it online.
He said the city would need to raise about $1,800 on an annual basis to have it online.
Radio is one of Werner’s passions.
He has been an on-air voice at other radio stations.
The city began playing music on its station last month, before adding programs last week.
Werner said he has received more positive feedback in the last month than he has received about Win-TV.
“It’s more accessible, easier to get to,” he said of Waupaca Radio. “In the fringe area, put it near a window. It is then easier to penetrate a weaker signal.”
City Administrator Henry said the station will be another way to inform the community about city government and for local groups to get information out about what they are doing.
“It’s another piece of the puzzle that makes our area unique,” he said.