It’s been a two-and-a-half-year journey with plenty of roadblocks, twists and turns, but Kathy Weisbach is both relieved and excited that Crescent Hill Radio will make the move to an FM frequency in the coming weeks.
Right now, the station, which will broadcast at 100.9 FM with the call letters WCHQ, is in the process of setting up its broadcast transmitter, appointing drive-time disc jockeys and preparing for more live programming than ever before.
“I want it to be a variety of voices,” Weisbach said. “I want it to be where we can talk about current events and what shows are coming up. The big thing is reaching out to the community and helping local businesses.”
Meanwhile, ARTxFM also received its construction permit from the Federal Communications Commission to develop a new FM broadcast station. It will broadcast at 97.1 on the FM dial; the station announced its call letters — WXOX — at a special launch party on Friday.
“So much is happening at ARTxFM right now,” said Sharon Scott, station director. “It is hard to keep still. It is appropriate and wonderful that ARTxFM and Crescent Hill Radio received their permit on the same day. Together we will change the local media landscape.”
The licenses are available due to a 2010 amendment to the FCC’s Community Radio Act; the amendment made way for Low Power FM (LPFM) licenses for community radio stations that would allow them to broadcast on FM frequencies with a maximum of 100 watts of power. Last fall, there was talk that the two local stations might share a frequency, but they opted to wait.
As it stands, both will be able to broadcast their uniquely different programming separately while also being allies. Crescent Hill Radio focuses on local music, including hundreds of artists who would otherwise have no way of getting their music on the airwaves, with forays into local food, local business and live shows with local guests.
ARTxFM focuses on local arts, featuring alternative local music as well as cultural music and art themes, featuring everything from local hip-hop to the Squallis Puppeteers. ARTxFM has taken a similar path as Crescent Hill Radio, keeping programming as local and original as possible with area personalities and show hosts. But the message also spreads farther thanks to the Internet.
“Over the past two years of online broadcasting,” Scott said, “we have built a strong international listenership and we look forward to supplementing that with the strong local engagement our FM signal will bring. We embrace the opportunity to diversify the Louisville airwaves with new sounds, as we believe the local community will embrace our new approach to broadcasting.”
Weisbach estimates Crescent Hill Radio, which previously could be streamed online or heard for a few blocks around the studio in Crescent Hill via a low-power AM frequency, will reach across the Highlands and well into St. Matthews, and possibly even as far as Jeffersonville. The reach, she said, will be roughly between three and 10 miles.
“So far,” Weisbach said, “even without that LPFM signal, I think Crescent Hill Radio has been a perfect example of what the Community Radio Act was meant to do. It has taken four years for the FCC to finally start giving out these LPFM licenses, and now I hope we will be a real force in the whole ‘local movement.’”
Calling the FM license a “dream come true,” Scott said, “After such a long wait, it is a bit shocking — but totally thrilling — to discover that we finally have the federal permission we need to build our FM radio station. We are looking forward to hoisting our antenna and getting on air.”
“It’s kind of hard to believe it’s happening,” Weisbach added. “It’s been worth it for what we’ve been doing so far. I hope it spreads virally.”