The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

February 23, 2013

Love, not money, drives broadcasters

By JOE MAHONEY
The Daily Star

---- — ROXBURY — It’s live, local and, as its slogan boasts, “wildly diverse.”

WIOX, a nonprofit community radio broadcasting from an old Masonic Lodge building, has ambitious plans for 2013, including placing its transmitter on a mountaintop in Andes to boost its signal and attract new listeners.

The station — at 91.3 on the FM dial and streamed on the web at www.wioxradio.org —  has become a labor of love for about 90 volunteers who contribute their time to it in one way or another.

Nobody — not the managers, not the on-air talent, not the techies who keep the equipment running — is paid.

And all of the shows, which air from 7 a.m. to midnight seven days a week, are locally produced, with the exception of Democracy Now, executive producer Joe Piasek said.

The station, which is owned by the town of Roxbury and holds a license from the Federal Communications Commission, relies on donations from listeners and also is supported by local businesses that underwrite programs.

While the initial gear needed to get the station running has been paid for, “we still have to pay for rent, heat and electric, and any time equipment breaks down, we have to replace it,” noted Artie Martello, who hosts a two-hour folk music show five days a week on WIOX and also serves as the office manager.

The station is in the process of developing a partnership with public radio station WSKG in Binghamton. That will potentially allow collaboration in producing programming and sharing of resources, Piasek said.

The station, which began broadcasting Aug. 27, 2010, can also be heard by MTC subscribers on their cable radio service.

In trying to maximize its relevancy and immediacy, WIOX has been stepping up its live remote coverage of cultural events, election night reporting and local sports, featuring play-by-play announcers. In late October, it broadcast a debate between two Delaware County judicial candidates live from the Arkville firehouse.

Finding people with strong skill sets that can be applied to programming has been one of the least challenging tasks for station’s managers.

“This has been a magnet,” said Mike Teitelbaum, the station’s production manager. “When the doors opened, people came with their ideas, their passion and their creativity. People came out of the woodwork to help.”

Among those who lend a hand on a regular basis is Kent Garrett, a retired network news producer who worked with the likes of Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw and now serves as the de facto news director for WIOX.

Besides a wide spectrum of musical programming, the station serves up shows that focus on local farming, automobile mechanics, forestry, news and writing.

The station managers say they keenly aware of the special intimate relationship that the medium of radio has with its listeners, as the shows they put on will be aired inside kitchens, bedrooms and cars. About 80,000 New Yorkers live within the station’s reach.

“If radio is done a certain way, it is magical and infinitely imaginable,” Piasek said.