A new low-power FM radio station that will broadcast all information currently presented on the Community TV channel in Stevens Point has been approved for construction.
The LPFM station will be community-based with a maximum power of 100 watts and a very limited transmission range.
The station will simulcast the audio from the TV feed, providing a new way for this information to reach the Stevens Point community.
“The locally-produced programs seen on Stevens Point Community TV can’t be seen on any other TV channel,” said John Quirk, Community TV and website coordinator for the city of Stevens Point. “For the most part, only the government-produced programs are available online. There are some people who cannot see the programs at all, those who do not have cable TV. Putting them on the radio will present them to a new audience and also give everyone an opportunity to hear the programs when they normally could not, like in their car or anywhere else a portable radio can go that cable TV cannot.”
Community safety is a large motivating factor for the addition of this station.
“During an emergency, we will be able to broadcast critical information from the Emergency Operations Center even if cable TV and Internet access is unavailable,” Quirk said.
On a normal day, only the content from the TV station will be broadcasted. However, it has been noted that content could eventually be produced specifically for the station.
The city has been granted a permit for construction by the Federal Communications Commission, but building has not started.
“In our case, construction simply means purchasing new hardware and software and putting an antenna on an existing 100-foot light pole. We are not constructing a new building or erecting a new tower,” Quirk said.
Construction could take up to 18 months or longer, if an extension is needed.
“When everything is in place, we should be able to get a license and call letters and start transmitting,” Quirk said.
The same two city employees who manage the community TV channel and website will manage the station. There are not yet any plans to hire additional personnel to specifically meet the needs of the new station.
“None of the people currently in these positions are university students, but they have been at previous times and certainly could be in the future,” Quirk said.
Although this new station may grant students new opportunity, it is not expected to take away participation from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s student-run WWSP 90FM radio station.
“I do not believe that this community-based station will negatively impact 90FM. Depending on how the new station is used in the future, it could actually allow for more diversity of voices in the area,” said Mark Tolstedt UWSP media studies professor.