August 1, 1981 Radio is Dead
Question: Without googling it, who can tell me the first video played on MTV? Anyone?
Ok, I’ll tell you. Video Killed the Radio Star, by The Buggles (Yep, that’s not a typo. That was their name). I actually saw it air, 12:01AM, August 1, 1981. I was a freshman in high school and MTV was the bomb!
And, radio really didn’t die, but MTV gave it a run for its money.
Not Just Anybody Can Start A Radio Station
It’s 2013. All the makings were there for a non-commercial low-power FM radio station: the building (small building behind the Firehouse Cultural Center), the 100’ antenna (left over from the original Fire Station and used by the Sheriff’s office at one point), and the interest.
All that was needed was a group of dedicated volunteers to bring it to life. Oh, and a chief operator, funding, lots of paperwork, equipment, a strict timeline to get up and running, and a federal low-powered radio station license from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission).
Let’s step back a second for a very brief bit of history: In 2000 the FCC began issuing licenses for low-powered radio stations so communities could control the local airways. Nice idea, right? Then Congress said stop and a big fight started.
The FCC finally won and ten years later, in 2013, they began issuing low-powered radio station licenses again in limited quantities. This is where the Firehouse Cultural Center ‘Radio Team’ (aka, dedicated group of volunteers) stepped in….
As you can imagine, getting one of these ‘limited-available’ licenses is no small feat (it’s the federal government), but the dedicated ‘Radio Team’ connected to the Firehouse Cultural Center set out to do just that, and they did (with funding assistance from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay South Shore Council, One Hundred Women Who Care and the Ruskin Community Development Foundation.)
Getting a Radio Station License: Don’t Get Your Hopes Up
The original ‘Radio Team’ (Delores Coe, Sandy Council and Paula MacDonald) hired an engineer to help them navigate the FCC licensing process. ‘Don’t get your hopes up’ was the engineer’s best advice but, to everyone’s surprise, they were approved almost immediately.
Then the work began to get the radio station on the air. That took a bit more doing. According to FCC laws, once you get the license you have 18 months to get on the air or they take your license away. Just like that. Sheesh.
So, a few months into the start-up phase, the Radio Team called Jeff Knauff (you might already know him from the story we did on his super-cool recording studio in Gibsonton) to ask for his help. Jeff was familiar with recording and broadcast equipment and could work alongside the engineer to get the radio station on the air.
August 17 – WPHX 101.9 Your Community Radio Station, GOES LIVE!
In the early months Jeff Knauff acted as the station’s Chief Operator (an FCC requirement). More recently, however, Bob Hogue, a retired Computer Engineering teacher (and one-time part-time radio announcer), has assumed the Chief Operator role.
WHPX 101.9 now airs 24 hours a day. While software ‘runs’ the programming, the Chief Operator has to load the programming into the software (for days / weeks in advance) and make sure everything is working as it should. No dead air space allowed!
There are many FCC requirements, too, while on the air. Regular announcements have to be made and program and radio station identification notices are required at regular intervals. Dave McElroy, Program Director of WPHX, pre-records many of these announcements (and produced his own Fourth of July show).
Programming: Rockabilly to Community Programming to Thomas Jefferson
Programming is varied from musical recordings made from acts that’ve performed at the Firehouse Cultural Center Theater to a few syndicated programs, to a show that Jeff Knauff produces called WHPX Presents, in which he interviews musicians about the musicians who inspired them. The Rockabilly and Blues Radio Hour and The Thomas Jefferson Hour (current events told from the perspective of Thomas Jefferson) are just a few more of the programs.
New programs are added regularly so the best place to keep up is the station’s website.
Local, Local, Local: Want Your Own Radio Show?
The goal at WPHX is to get more and more locally-produced programs. The mission of a community radio station, after all, is to give a voice to the local community.
WPHX is particularly special because it is the only low-powered community radio station in the entire United States connected to a cultural center. Its mission is to ‘provide a variety of arts, music, education and information programming that connect people to each other, to ideas, experiences and resources’ (Firehouse Cultural Center Website).
So, if you think you have that ‘velvet radio voice’ and something to share, it’s possible to produce your own radio show for WPHX. Of course, there’s more to it (there always is), but WPHX is accepting new, locally-produced programming regularly. If you have a show idea, or questions, please visit http://wphx1019.org or email email@example.com for more information.
Note: Everyone is invited to propose shows. Even high school students.
Learn to Produce A Professional Sounding Radio Show: Fall Classes
If you’re interested in learning more about producing a radio show, Jeff Knauff will host a series of classes at the Firehouse Cultural Center: Students will learn how to use a computer to turn their ideas for a show into a professional sounding radio program.
- Four 3-hour classes, each Tuesday, beginning October 4, 6:00PM – 9:00PM.
- The cost for the series of four classes $120.00.
- There are scholarships available for High School Students. Students can apply now by calling the Firehouse Cultural Center at 813-645-7651
- Class applications, with a PayPal option, will soon be available on The Firehouse Cultural Center Website.
For more information on class pricing, applications and such please contact Georgia Vahue, Executive Director of the Firehouse Cultural Center, firstname.lastname@example.org
WPHX FM Community Radio 1st Anniversary PARTY
Mark your calendars!
Saturday, August 20, 2016, 7:00-10:00PM at the Firehouse Cultural Center
Music by Victoria Ginty and Ladyhawke, Kozmic Pearl and Taylor John, and a few ‘surprise’ guests.
Beer, wine and soft drinks and a silent auction featuring items from amazing South Shore Businesses
Your suggested donation of $20.00 at the door will benefit the WPHX operating fund.
Hope to see everyone there!
Bonus Question: What Is A Low-Powered Radio Station?
I thought you’d never ask. Here’s the scoop on low-powered, non commercial radio stations:
– They use about the power of a light bulb (hence ‘low power’), 100 watts
– Typical radius of 3-5 miles, although WPHX tends to reach farther (Florida’s super flat)
– Available ONLY to nonprofits, schools and community centers.
– NO commercials allowed. Ever. (Amen to that.)
– Goal: Give a voice to the community so get creative South Shore!
Location / Information / Contact
WPHX Website: http://wphx1019.org
Firehouse Cultural Center Website: firehouseculturalcenter.org
WPHX and Firehouse Cultural Center location: 1st Avenue NE at Shell Point Rd, Ruskin, Florida. 813-645-7651
Georgia Vahue, Executive Director, Firehouse Cultural Center / Sandy Council, WPHX Advisory Chair (For station and 1st Anniversary event information), 813-641-1600