With a mission of educating, entertaining and celebrating all things Floyd, WROF radio station will go live on the air Friday.
For the past two months, owner Scott Smith has been doing test broadcasts for Radio Of Floyd, and he says he has been overwhelmed with the positive responses from local residents.
Located at 95.7 frequency on the FM dial, WROF can also be linked to at www.wrof-floyd.com and found on Facebook. The station is housed in a former dentist’s office, the Pursifull building, on Locust Street. Smith has converted the downstairs space into the studio.
“Floyd is really going to decide what this station is going to be,” Smith says. Music will be the focus, but it also will be “a voice of free expression for everyone in the community.” Smith says he got the idea for the station’s direction from a television character, Chris Stevens, the disc jockey on Northern Exposure, a series on CBS in the nineties. He hopes WROF will be a place to “start dialogues”.
Smith says he doesn’t know “where this station will go….Frankly that’s the fun of it. Now it’s a blank picture. We can paint our own canvas.”
He wants the community to think of WROF as their station. He is welcoming programming proposals and asking for volunteers – from a program director and engineer to on-air talent and individuals working in promotions - to help with the station’s operations. The station is in the process of becoming a 501c3 non-profit organization. Funding will come from donations, sponsorships and government grants.
Smith, a local financial advisor and businessman, formerly lived in Naples, Florida and Roanoke, before settling in Floyd nine years ago. He says radio “has been a dream of mine and now I have the capacity to do it.” Calling Floyd home, he views the area as a “slice of 1950s Americana” with the one traffic light adding to its charm.
“Music is the most important part of the station,” Smith comments. “We have such a diverse musical spectrum of talent here. I really want to celebrate that…(and) the local musicians…giving them a voice and reach.” He adds, “Floyd is really its own brand already. People come from all over the world for Friday night.”
Possibilities for the station include doing live remotes at some of the music venues. Smith suggests “micing up the alcoves so that music playing in the streets can be heard around the world.”
The current radio tower on top of the building enables the station to reach about 10 miles in radius. As the station grows, there will hopefully be opportunities to expand its outreach. The higher the tower, the more the radius, explains Smith. “There’s an equation.” Radio signals are also affected by topography. Smith asks that residents help with radius checks from their cars or houses “so we can get a feel of how far our reach is.”
The station also has the ability to rent space on the cell phone tower at Wills Ridge and daisy chain it to Christiansburg and Blacksburg.
Ninety-five percent of WROF’s listenership is online, and there are also ways to stream with the station there.
In addition to local programming, Smith has partnered with Global Community Radio for access to other options.
He also loves the idea of a family crowded around a radio station on Saturday night listening to programs. “I love the old radio programs and dramas….My dad used to listen to the Shadow, radio theatre with Orson Welles….That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do the radio station in the first place – being gathered around the radio station with family.”
Smith is interested in seeing what ideas the community has. He plans to host a town hall meeting where he can have a Q&A with the audience and ask people what they would like their radio station to sound like.
He is also trying to source an emergency alert system, which is required for the station, and trying to raise funds for it.
Plans for the radio station go back to the fall of 2013. That’s when Smith went to the local farmers’ market with the idea of talking with anyone about a radio station. The first person told him, “I can’t believe you’re talking about it. We’ve wanted to have one here.”
Through a friend, Christopher Maxwell, Smith found out that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had opened up non-commercial air space – low power FM – for people to broadcast on. “It’s been about five years to get to the finish line…and a lot of paperwork,” Smith says. “We were one of the very few in the entire country that got permits. We were in a very dark radio area.”
Smith says it has been a labor of love, but taxing and trying at times to get it through. The application was 70 pages long and very technical, and if not for Maxwell, Smith notes, “we would not have this station. He helped with filling out paperwork and filing things on time. We got our construction permit in January 2014. It has taken this long to bring it all together.”
Programming proposals can be submitted to RadioFreeFloyd@gmail.com. A one-page proposal for a show should include: the type of show (music, talk, etc); length of the show; why you feel the show belongs on Radio Of Floyd (how it fits the mission); and when you are NOT available to be on the air. If a person’s program is chosen, that person must attend an FCC training session.
“Whatever anyone has a passion about I want them to have a forum to do it,” Smith says. There are so many voices in Floyd, he adds. “I’d like to provide a medium for them to express themselves.”
The website will be running 24 hours a day. In town, the station will be on the air from 6 a.m. to midnight every day.
As for the radio station, Smith is excited. “It’s going to be something we’ll all be proud of.” So tune in.
(The radio station can also be reached at 745-WROF (9763).)