Turn on the radio and listen to what you hear on the air. Do you sometimes wish you could hear more local voices? Coming to the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) is something new and unique in the Fort Wayne area – WELT-LP 95.7 FM, an upcoming low-power FM (LPFM) community radio station.
“It’s going to be community radio. We’ve never had a community radio station here in Fort Wayne or Allen County,” said Erik Möllberg, Station Manager for WELT-LP.
WELT-LP is committed to making Fort Wayne “radio active,” which means active participation from the community with station operations and programming.
“We’re going to facilitate community expression on the public airwaves so people can share music, culture, news, and information and challenge the cultural and intellectual assumptions of our listeners,” said Möllberg.
Unlike many corporate-run stations, WELT-LP is going to the community to see what they want to hear. Some people want to do talk shows, some want to do music shows, and others want to do programming targeting specific ethnic groups in Fort Wayne.
Right now feedback from the community has been positive with several individuals and interest groups expressing interest in developing programming for the station.
“Radio is my passion, but I am also passionate [about] culture, education, [and giving a] voice to all those in need to be heard,” said David Calderon, who is interested in developing programming for the Latin American community in Fort Wayne.
Möllberg, Calderon, and others interested in developing community radio in Fort Wayne have been meeting monthly at the Allen County Public Library to discuss the development of the station. Their next meeting is Monday, June 8 at 7:00pm.
“A larger part of our mission is that we’re going to provide quality programming and services to the community through the promotion of communication, education, [and] entertainment,” said Möllberg.
The WELT-LP studio will be located downtown at the main branch of the library adjacent to the Access Fort Wayne television service. Despite both services relying heavily on community voices for content, community radio in Fort Wayne will be distinct from its television counterpart as it will be broadcast over-the-air and need to adhere to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations.
Möllberg himself has been working to bring an LPFM station to Fort Wayne since 2000 and has contributed significantly to the development of LPFM radio in the United States after co-writing a filing with the Alliance for Community Media, which the FCC used as a base for how LPFM radio would operate in the United States.
According to the FCC, LPFM radio stations are authorized for only noncommercial educational broadcasting stations. Effective radiated power is capped at 100 watts, which means most station signals will broadcast in a 3.5 mile radius from the tower.
Over the past four years, the vision for WELT-LP is steadily becoming a reality as the word got out to like-minded individuals interested in developing the station.
The goal is to be on the air by December 2015, and the station needs to raise $8,000 so they can install an antenna and transmitter on the campus of IPFW where the station is working to develop some interesting learning opportunities for students. Equipment is being installed now and there should be enough for people to practice on and possibly stream audio online in coming months.
For more information on how to contribute to WELT-LP and help them reach their goals, contact Erik Möllberg at EMollberg@acpl.lib.in.us.