The Mineral County Historical Society (MCHS) and Potomac State College of West Virginia University (PSC) have joined forces to bring a new and unique kind of radio station to the community. WKYW-LP, a.k.a. “Mountain Streams Radio,” will offer a broad mix of music with roots in West Virginia and the Appalachian region along with information of particular importance to Mineral County.
The Historical Society owns the station which will broadcast from facilities in the College’s Catamount Place residence hall, the former Potomac Valley Hospital building.
“The Mountain Streams music mix will include bluegrass, ballads and blues, old-time fiddle and string-band tunes, and the work of contemporary songwriters,” Station Manager Ed McDonald said. “It will feature many of today’s best musicians with West Virginia roots, along with some of the region’s musical pioneers. “It’s music with broad appeal, that’s hard to find anywhere else on the radio these days,” McDonald added.
As part of its partnership agreement with the College, WKYW will offer PSC students a wide range of opportunities for learning and work experience in such areas as journalism, engineering, computer science, and office management. “I am pleased that our students, faculty, and staff will be able to participate in the operation of such a one-of-a-kind radio station,” PSC President Leonard Colelli said. He added, “It’s also a great way for the College to reach out and share its resources with the local community.”
WKYW will operate as what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) terms a “low power FM” (LPFM) station at 102.9 on the FM dial. Its programming will also “stream” worldwide via the Internet.
Like many other stations, WKYW will utilize a computer-based automation system to generate its program content. This system will enable the station to serve listeners on a 24/7 basis without the need for an operator on duty at all times. At the same time, however, it will have the capability for “live” operation to cover special events or to offer other types of “real time” programming.
As a noncommercial station, WKYW will seek financial support from a combination of grants, listener contributions, and on-air underwriting. Although not intended to “sell” goods and services, underwriting announcements enable businesses and organizations to make listeners aware of who they are, what they offer, and how to locate them. Underwriting on WKYW may be especially helpful to small businesses that cannot afford more costly advertising.
The process of building the station will begin with equipping the studio, installing the automation system, and launching the Internet stream. This phase is expected to cost approximately $5000 and should be completed by late summer. Meanwhile, an additional $6000 will be needed for the transmitter to put the station “on the air” before the FCC construction permit expires in February, 2017. Ongoing operating costs are estimated to be around $10,000 per year.
“We have received quite a bit of generous support from members and friends,” Historical Society President Frank Roleff said, “and we’re continuing to seek start-up funds from grants and other sources.”
Individuals and organizations wishing to support the project should send contributions to the Mineral County Historical Society
PO Box 1325, Keyser, WV 26726.
Contribute via PayPal.
McDonald is a native of Mineral County and a graduate of Bethany College and Ohio University. He has more than 40 years of experience in various aspects of broadcasting, including work at a Kentucky public radio station with a folk music format. He is the long-time host of “Sidetracks,” a weekly program of folk and acoustic music broadcast on West Virginia Public Radio and WFWM Radio in Frostburg, MD.
“I am grateful to the Mineral County Historical Society for their encouragement and support,” McDonald said. “I also appreciate the fact that Potomac State College has provided a laboratory where we can develop the idea for what I hope will be a new and unique kind of radio station.”
While the Historical Society owns the station, it will be housed in the College’s Catamount Place residence hall and will offer students a wide range of opportunities for learning and hands-on work experience.
Pictured from left are: PSC’s Amber Butcher, journalism instructor; Harlan Shreve, campus operations executive director; Jennifer Merrifield, English professor, Liberal Arts Division chair and faculty chair; Edem Tetteh, interim academic dean; Lucas Taylor, development director; Historical Society President Frank Roleff; PSC President Leonard Colelli; and Ed McDonald, WKYW station manager.