Friday, June 17, 2005

1-Watt Radio Stations

What is it like to broadcast at one watt? Pirate radio stations operate all over America at low wattage. This is often to prevent or reduce interference and evade discovery. The FCC has been sending in armed ATF agents to shut down pirate radio stations since 2002. That kind of militant overkill is can have the opposit of the intended effect.

Excluding the plethora of historical radio stations which operated at one was (WUMM, WESU etc.) there are also legitimate radio stations operating at 1 watt. First I'm looking only at Class A licenses and old Class D licenses. This excludes the LP class. Here I showcase two that I consider the only perfect examples of the one watt radio station.

This station is an infamous  project by that rowdy group of radio activists RADIO VOLTA. Born out of necessity as webcasting station WR2K, they railed against the Republican National Convention that was held in Philadelphia in 2000. They went on to found WPEB because Bush won and they (like many others) were quite disappointing; and wanted a forum for their voices. It has grown since then and has become a genuine West Philadelphia community radio station. Their studios are located in the basement of Calvary Church on Baltimore Ave.

They were founded in the 1960's under the calls WVMS as a carrier current station on 590 AM. WVMS made the big move to FM on 90.3 getting the WMSC calls in 1973. But interference with WJSV, WFUV and WKCR they were forced to move to 101.5 FM. This was doomed to fail because WKXW in Trenton already had the frequency. Why the FCC approved this no one knows. So they moved back to 90.3 in 1994 and dropped the juice to 1 measly watt. It's still better than cable FM. Montclair State University continues to invest in equipment and support for the station in an era when other institutions are selling off their licenses. The station remains student run. Long live the king.