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Jackson Newspapers - Ripley, WV
  • Mineral County Historical Society to launch local radio station

  • KEYSER - The Mineral County Historical Society is taking to the airwaves.
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  • By Liz Beavers
    lbeavers@newstribune.info
    Tribune Managing Editor
    KEYSER - The Mineral County Historical Society is taking to the airwaves.
    The society has submitted an application for a permit from the Federal Communications Commission to build and operate a low power FM (LPFM) radio station to serve the Keyser/Mineral County area.
    According to Ed McDonald, MCHS member who is spearheading the project, they hope to receive word in January that their application has been approved.
    He said the idea is something he's always wanted to try, "and when I brought the idea to the (historical society) board, they said, 'Let's go for it.'"
    They hired a consulting engineer to help them prepare the application, and the paperwork was submitted Nov. 12.
    A total of 2,800 nonprofit organizations and entities throughout the United States have applied for a low-frequency FM permit since the FCC opened a window of opportunity this year.
    The local application, however, requested the frequency of 102.9, formerly used by WROG in Cumberland, and since there are no other applications competing for the same frequency, the approval should be a smooth process.
    "They will approve the non-competing applications first, then go on to the applications competing for the same airwaves," McDonald explained.
    Programming on the station would be "designed to serve and to reflect the local community - its history and culture, its organizations, institutions and activities, as well as a broad mix of its music," McDonald said.
    The music would include what he calls "American roots music" - a mix of traditional, folk, and Americana.
    "It made no sense to me to replicate what's already available out there," he said, referring to the musical offerings of the larger FM stations in the area.
    He hopes to include "a lot of West Virginia artists, past and present, whose music doesn't really get played much."
    McDonald, who produces radio programming in a recording studio in the basement of his home, already has a leg up on the process once they receive approval to get started. He will, however, have to add some computers, a transmitter, and an antenna.
    "The application calls for the antenna to be on the top of my house," he explained.
    Putting the antenna there, of course, will cost money.
    "Once the society has been awarded a construction permit, we will undertake a broad-based fund-raising campaign to get the station up and running. This campaign will include an effort to secure as much grant funding as possible, along with individual and organizational support from the community," he said.
    He also wants everyone to know this will be a community radio station, with airspace available to area schools, churches, and organizations.
    Page 2 of 2 - "We want to encourage volunteers to produce their own programs - maybe the high schools and Potomac State - that could be plugged into the system," he said.
    According to McDonald, when the FCC approves the application, they will issue a random set of call letters for the station. The society may, however, choose their own - perhaps something meaningful to the society or the area in general.
    And while the station will get its start in McDonald's basement, he said the hope is to eventually have it in a more accessible location.
    "We'll definitely have to start modest and build on it," he said.
    McDonald is quick to point out, however, that the radio station is not his project alone.
    "We will soon be recruiting interested volunteers--from students to senior citizens--to assist with various aspects of the operation," he said, noting that members of the work committee would not have to be affiliated with the historical society.
    Anyone who would like additional information about the proposed radio station, or would like to help either financially or by volunteering, may contact McDonald at 304-788-0129 or by email at ed@eioproductions.com.

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