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We Did It, Also!

An ambitious LPFM project involves young and old alike

The number of stations on the FM band is about to see historic expansion thanks to the low-power FM window. Here, Radio World starts a series of posts by and about the entities that hold LPFM construction permits, discussing their hopes and plans. Do you plan an LPFM station? Tell us. Write to Brett Moss at [email protected].

Tim Ericksen, Host of “True Blues” Here’s our story …

A friend of mine had been down to The Villages, a retirement community near Orlando, Fla., and learned about the Low-Power FM radio legislation. He came back to Illinois and cornered me. He thought that with my experience in the media business I might like to work with him establishing a station for our retirement community, Sun City Huntley, in Huntley, Ill.

I had worked for years in the early days of television, film and advertising. Like him I’m retired. A few of us presented the idea to our retirement community but they weren’t interested in developing a station.

So we switched to Plan B and incorporated as a nonprofit in Illinois and got a 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS. We formed a board and decided to start as an Internet station.

Lucky for us Jim Carollo had just retired from WGN(AM/FM) and he joined our board. He told us how much money we needed to equip a station. A local citizen donated what was needed to purchase and install the equipment and our local park district provided us with a wonderful space for our studios and offices at a very low rent. Huntley Community Radio was on the air, sort of!

I became director of programming and development. Jim was director of engineering. We’ve been streaming for 18 months now. Our website is where you can get more info, donate or see our programming.

“Foodies” Nancy and Jim Eggers, Hosts of “Dining Duo”
We program over 35 locally-produced shows. This is in addition to a wide variety of music programs. Our major hospital chain has a regular medical lecture series that we record and then play back. At present we prerecord all our shows but are about to start a regular, live, morning show with news, weather and local announcements.

One of our missions is to provide educational opportunities for all. Our local high school has developed a Radio Broadcasting Club with about 35 members. They have recently begun recording their own show. These students are excited about learning the radio business and producing their own shows.

Start ’em young — Ben, Andrew, Cory and Nick, hosts of “CK Sports Talk”
We also have a strong affiliation with a local community college, McHenry Community College, and we have three interns, who, for credit, have learned how to operate our recording and editing equipment and have developed their own shows. They will be mentoring the high school students. This educational component has brought additional excitement to our station.

We also have a terrific show featuring four boys, all age 14, who have their own show weekly in which they discuss local regional and national sports. People are learning that these “kids” have very interesting and sometimes sophisticated views. We also feature a weekly talk/interview show hosted by an 88-year-old and everyone thinks it’s great. So we run the age gamut from 14–88.

Interns Curtis Koch (L) and Greg Hill, from McHenry Community College, provide instruction and host some shows. About 10 shows have been developed and are produced by seniors from the nearby Sun City facility. Most of these people knew nothing about radio but they learned on the job and talk about their hobbies, interests or their professions. Subjects range from law, gourmet food, real estate, comedy, yoga and even the Constitution.

As for getting on the air, we, like so many LPFM applicants, we have just received our construction permit.

Jim, who has over 40+ years of radio engineering experience with WGN radio in Chicago, has supervised all of our purchases and installation of our technical equipment and continues to do so.

We have an advisory board, which includes the village manager, executive director of the Park District, a local major bank manager, a noted radio personality, superintendent of the school district and others.

Our biggest challenge right now is fundraising and, of course, marketing and letting everyone know we’re here.

So we are kicking off a fundraising drive. We need to raise $40,000 for the purchase and installation of the antenna and transmitter. Our local village government has offered space on one of their towers for the antenna, but we have to complete some engineering studies for them. Jim is really handy for that. The Chamber of Commerce has helped in promotion.

It’s been a lot of hard work but we love it! It’s great to see what we’ve accomplished and look forward to the future. We’d be interested in hearing from others who have their CPs and how they are going to operate and raise the needed money. Let’s keep talking.

Dorothy Litwin is the director of programming and development for Huntley Community Radio Ltd.

To submit a post about your LPFM station’s plans, write to [email protected].