Friday, March 09, 2012

The End of WDFH?

90.3 WDFH arrived late to the FM party, first signing on in 1995. They have found it difficult to maintain consistent funding in the years hence and are no endanger of becoming extinct. It's a struggle many non-coms endure, but at 53 watts the reach of WDFH is limited, and as is there list of potential donors. As a result their situation is even more difficult. More here.

You can donate to WDFH
The station began originally as a closed cable station in 1982. A 1988 issue of BME (Broadcast Management/Engineering) has an article on Marc Sophos, the station founder that covers most of these details. He is still the chairman of Hudson Valley Community Radio; the nonprofit corporation that owns and operates WDFH. One bio claims that Sophos started the station in 1968 as an "ultra low power station" I assume this is a pirate station or Part 15 compliant.

He tried as early as 1973 to start a licensed station at Dobbs Ferry High School, but ultimately failed. It died of a market-based radio reality. Because of the density of full power signals in the New York City market, the NY suburbs often suffer from a lack of local radio. Interference scenarios abound and the stakeholders are litigious. This first draf tof the idea lives on in the callsign; WDFH: Dobbs Ferry High. Sophos persisted and began working with an engineer in 1984, a partnership that resulted in a crisp new CP in1992. That station signed on as WDFH 3 years later with just 12 watts. Troubles began shortly thereafter.

Due to some unexpected trouble with a lease, they lost their studios and transmitter site in 1997, 15 months after they signed on. They were off air for almost exactly a year. Returning to the airwaves with e limited schedule and operating from a new site owned by AT&T. The new site was stable, but with a very limited audience. They described the situation tersely "We believe that only about 10,000 people were within reach of the signal from this new site. " Ouch. More here.

In 1998, trying to tie themselves to the community they reached out to Mercy College. In the end they signed a contract with the college in December of 2000. It was followed by 4 years of growth, more volunteers, more programming, more staff. Then came the fall. In 2004 the College encountered money problems and WDFH took its share of the pain. The deal fell apart. In 2006, the alliance between WDFH and Mercy ended badly leaving WDFH in the lurch, scrambling for new studios and staff. They ran pre-recorded and syndicated programming until 2008. But things looked up in 2009 when after a zoning and FCC approval they relocated their transmitter again and increased their power to 53 watts. Their potential listener ship increased perhaps by 40 times as many listeners. But the original problem persists: How many potential listeners become listeners, and how many listeners become donors.

You can donate to WDFH