Have something to say? An issue or kind of music you are passionate about? Thanks WRFU’s new tower, now you can reach all of Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy through WRFU 104.5 FM, a community radio station located in the Independent Media Center in downtown Urbana. For future trainings contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 344-8820 to sign up.
Hundreds of donors helped raise the $20,000 needed to build the new tower, which was constructed in the final months as winter held off its bitter cold to let many hands finish the work. The project was truly DIY (Do It Yourself) Radio, with dozens of volunteers driving forklifts, digging dirt, and climbing the 100 foot tower to fit pieces together. “It’s kind of like building a huge lego project” said Pete Tridish, the construction manager who his considered a leader in the Low Power FM movement.
On November 30th, as WRFU was raising its tower, all ears were tuned to the FCC as it announced plans license thousands of new community radio stations, allowing them in urban areas for the first time in decades. “This will be the largest expansion of community radio in US history” said Danielle Chynoweth, who helped to pass the Local Community Radio Act and has conducted outreach for the upcoming window for the past two years.
But in the age of Pandora and iTunes isn’t radio dead? “No way,” says Danielle, “people are hungry for local news, events, and music. As the federal government gets consumed by corporate money, and media consolidates in the hands of a few corporate hands, people are turning local. They are looking for ways to speak to and make a difference in their local communities. The internet allows local communities to share their local perspectives and events to global audiences, bypassing the corporate filter.”
This month the IMC will get connected to UC2B, Urbana-Champaign’s super fast, public broadband system. This will allow WRFU and events on the IMC stage to stream online, as well as broadcast over the radio.
WRFU is already experiencing heightened interest, with a number of new programs getting ready for broadcast. EJP Radio, a project of the Education Justice Project, will be one of the new programs. The Education Justice Project offers for-credit college classes for inmates at the Danville Correctional Center. “The radio show will discuss educational and carceral issues” said Rohn Koester, an EPJ volunteer who is currently getting trained to host the show on WRFU.
The next free training will be held on Tuesday, January 8th at 6 PM. Contact email@example.com or 344-8820 to sign up.
Here is a pictoral tour of the RFU tower raising:
Mike Lehman, one of the founders who filed the original application for WRFU, waits for take off.
Ricardo Diaz, IMC Board member, gets in the mud, helping to dig the 15 by 15 by 5 foot pit before the cement forms are poured for the footings.
Pete Tridish (Construction Manager) Ray Morales (WRFU Station Manager and Host of The Show), Don McClure (WRFU Tech Wizard), and Mr. Otto (new DJ), help place the rebar reinforcement for the concrete footings for the tower.
Roger Epperson dives in.
Bill Taylor works late into the night in the cold to prepare for the concrete pour the next day.
Stuart Levy spreading gravel with a smile.
Ezra Shine Chynoweth and Karen Medina put fill around the concrete forms while Ezra looks at the backhoe and exclaims “Twuck! Twuck!”
Ezra Shine Chynoweth and his mother Danielle Chynoweth get to realize their dream of driving a back hoe.
Jacob Barton, OddMusician, playing the back hoe.
Climbers getting ready to put the tower together.
The first section goes up (photo by Dane Spudic)
Bill Taylor, cofounder of WEFT and WRFU, climbs the tower to tighten the sections.
RFU and IMC volunteers celebrate the tower raising.