Northeast gets several new pubradio stations

By Ben Mook

The number of pubradio stations in the northeastern U.S. has grown in recent weeks with the addition of new stations with signals reaching listeners in Vermont, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Vermont Public Radio has expanded service in southeastern Vermont and elsewhere with a new full-power station, 88.9 FM WVBA, an 8,800-watt NPR news station in Brattleboro. VPR also moved a translator station in Brattleboro from 94.5 FM to 94.3 FM, boosting its signal from 10 watts to 190 watts and bringing its VPR Classical service to the community.

In New York’s lower Hudson Valley area, Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson has launched a new pubradio signal, 88.1 FM WLHV. The 910-watt station received its authorization from the FCC Nov. 6. The college entered a retransmission agreement with 91.9 FM WHDD in Sharon, Conn., an NPR station that brands itself as Robin Hood Radio.

Danielle Riou, a research associate with Bard’s Human Rights Project, led the effort to bring pubradio to the school. She said the agreement saves Bard from bearing the cost of running the station while still allowing the college and its students to participate in creating programs.

“They have a pretty fierce commitment to local content,” Riou said of Robin Hood Radio. “We’re pretty excited about being able to transmit that, and it lets them pick up a lot of New York State that they previously weren’t.”

Also this month, Pittsburgh Public Media unveiled its plan to buy 1,100-watt WVBC-FM from licensee Bethany College in West Virginia to broadcast jazz, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

In January 2011, the group attempted to purchase WDUQ from Duquesne University, but the station was sold to Essential Public Media, a partnership between another Pittsburgh Triple A station WYEP, and a nonprofit established by Public Radio Capital.

Chuck Leavens, Pittsburgh Public Media’s c.e.o., said the group hopes to raise $150,000 to pay for the station outright and already has gathered $15,000 from donors.

Leavens, former chief engineer of WDUQ, is the technical designer of the station’s JazzWorks service.

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