Local nonprofit radio station needs keyboard warriors

Local nonprofit radio station needs keyboard warriors

Image Credit: Submitted

WDNP 102.3 FM radio station, based in downtown Dover, is looking for support. The station learned earlier this year the frequency they use could be put up for auction by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC regulates communications through cable, radio, television, satellite and wire.

Representatives of a radio station south of New Philadelphia have petitioned the FCC to make this move, which would effectively shut WDNP out of the running for the frequency they have been using since 2015.

Frequencies can go for hundreds of thousands of dollars or more at auction depending on the number of bidders interested. WDNP operates on a shoestring budget and depends on donations from individuals and businesses who support them. They have no extra funding to use to secure the use of the frequency.

Steven Shumaker, a volunteer at WDNP, feels the reason provided by the other station is inaccurate. The reasoning, as he understands it, is to provide the village of Dennison with FM radio service, but the village already has access to WBTC-AM, which has an FM repeater.

The current petition has the proposed station on WBTC’s tower in Uhrichsville, which was where WNPQ also once had been located. In addition, there’s unlikely to be a studio or anything related to this new station in Dennison.

“A repeater is not quite a pure FM, but it takes the AM signal and broadcasts it in FM,” Shumaker said. “Now it’s not 6,000 watts, obviously. But if the goal is to get Dennison an FM signal, well, they’ve already got an FM signal.”

WDNP is dedicated to serving the community. No one at the station gets a paycheck.

“Our mission really is to help promote and help the other nonprofits in the area, as well as to be a teaching station to help other people learn about radio and to help them get on the air, find a job somewhere, or just to have fun and enjoy it as a hobby,” Shumaker said. “So we try to do our best to serve the community, and none of us make a dime on this. The people that volunteer with us believe in that mission to serve the community and have fun doing it.”

WDNP recently promoted the Claymont Drama Department’s fall play, and the students involved spoke about it on air.

Shumaker hosts a talk show on Saturdays from 9-10 a.m. and has had other students on the show from all over Tuscarawas County.

“I have them come in and talk about the good things they’re doing, whether it’s the band, peewee football players, and I’ve had cheerleaders in. We’ve had the science club in, student councils, the recycling clubs,” Shumaker said. “We promote our local schools as best we can.”

They also have promoted Challenger baseball and many other organizations. “And if we lose our signal, that all goes away,” Shumaker said.

The nature of WDNP’s low-power, noncommercial license puts them at the very bottom when compared to commercial stations, which already have rights to their signal. Other stations can ask the FCC to consider making the low-power signal a full-power signal for their own commercial use if they meet minimum radio station technical spacing requirements.

“That’s what’s going on right now. So there’s nothing we can do about that,” Shumaker said.

Area businesses and individuals support WDNP each year.

“We have underwriters, kind of like NPR and PBS, and they support us, but we can’t advertise for them,” Shumaker said. “We can say where they are located at, or more information can be found out. We can promote their brand, but we can’t sell.”

Currently, the low-power range of the station is from the edge of Strasburg to the edge of the south side of New Philadelphia, but through the internet, WDNP has listeners from around the world.

“I would put up our sound on the stream against anybody in the area. It’s clear; it’s beautiful,” Shumaker said.

WDNP’s streaming link and information about the station can be found at www.wdnp.org.

If another operator wins the bid for the frequency, they could boost the power on the signal, and that also could cut out its usefulness to another low-power nonprofit station in Canton. It’s conceivable a large group owner such as iHeart or Audacity could acquire the frequency and run it remotely, something they often do, eliminating any aspect of localism.

Promoting nonprofit organizations and their events is WDNP’s focus, and they get out in the community as much as possible.

“We can do a remote from a blood drive for the American Red Cross or run PSAs for Big Brothers Big Sisters or the Humane Society,” Shumaker said. “If a library is having an author come to speak, we can talk about that because the libraries don’t charge anything for their services.”

WDNP promotes the yearly Canal Days Festival in Dover and many other community events from the Tuscarawas County Fair to First Town Days.

“We go to Canal Days every year, just to promote and talk about it,” Shumaker said. “We’re there from the time it opens until the time it closes.”

The station’s format is to play music from the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s with a variety of other programs too.

The FCC is currently in the process of collecting public comment on the matter, and they have a portal on their website for people wishing to voice their opinion. Those wishing to support WDNP should go to their Facebook page at http://facebook.com/dnp1023 and look for a post from Nov. 3 that contains a link to the FCC comment site and more information.

The deadline for public comment is Dec. 8.

For those who do not wish to use the portal, comments can be sent to WDNP at DNP102.3@outlook.com, and they are permitted to submit them on your behalf.

When writing your statement, it’s important to talk about how WDNP has benefited the community because the FCC is looking for substance in addition to how much listeners enjoy the programming. It’s also important to say the FCC should deny the allocation of 102.3 FM to Dennison, Ohio and leave the signal with WDNP.

“Now the good thing is that I’ve had a number of people that we’ve helped who have stepped up and already said, ‘Hey, we’ve got your back, and we’re submitting to the FCC,’” Shumaker said. “It’s good they’re trying. Will it help? I don’t know.”