RUMFORD — A River Valley tourism promoter announced Wednesday that it received approval from the Federal Communication Commission to operate a noncommercial, low-power FM radio station at 91.1.
Run by the River Valley Community Association of Rumford, the 100-watt River Valley Community Radio station is part of an overall marketing push, association Director Kevin Saisi said Wednesday evening.
It took a year of research, planning and preparation of documents. Additionally, they applied for WMPF-LP as call letters, he said.
The other association directors are Seth Carey and Amanda Houston.
Saisi said the station will be used to promote the River Valley to visitors and help local residents become more aware of the recreational opportunities the region has to offer.
To that end, the station will dedicate 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to positive, upbeat, automated music, interspersed with interesting information about the area, including events, history and activities, Saisi said.
“The evening will be automated when there isn’t a locally-produced show, and the morning is still in development,” he said.
The morning show will include information on area meetings and events, as well as trail conditions to help listeners become more involved with community efforts.
“Of course, there will be music, but we do not plan on having the silliness that frankly is overdone on some stations,” Saisi said.
Another thing that will set River Valley Community Radio apart from commercial radio will be its family-friendly selection of music.
“Our goal is to present the area in a good light, and that is hard to do when you are playing songs about alcohol, drugs, violence and promiscuity,” Saisi said.
“That is not to say that we will be playing Gregorian chants,” he said. “But rather, selected classic rock and oldies that don’t make small children ask questions.”
He said these restrictions will be scaled back slightly in the evening hours when community members will be offered the opportunity to have their own radio show.
“We have already initiated discussions with people regarding a possible local music show, school sports talk show, and perhaps, the return of a local show from the early WTBM days,” Saisi said.
The association and Rumford are discussing the station’s desire to acquire potential use of town property for its transmission tower.
They hope to offer a variety of genres, but plan to limit political content.
“It doesn’t make sense to ask the town for help, and then use the station to criticize them,” Saisi said. “We may cover meetings and even candidates nights, but we will not be engaging in political analysis as a part of our regular programming.”
He said the station is projected to cover the Rumford/Mexico area, Dixfield to the Maine Department of Transportation garage, Route 17 North to Roxbury village, and Route 2 West to the Half-Mile Curve just before Quality Fence.
Actual coverage may vary, though. Saisi said the new station “is not designed to compete with our friends at WOXO.
“We respect and appreciate the job they do in covering our community as a commercial broadcaster,” he said.
He said the association plans to offer community information to WOXO so they can fit it into their schedule.
“We do not expect to take over coverage of any events, be they sports or community events,” Saisi said.
“We need them to reach out to a greater audience,” he said. “We hope to be able to work in concert with them.”
He said the association has also started discussion with teachers at RSU 10 about how it can integrate related classes into the radio station program.
The association additionally reached out to local snowmobile clubs about keeping trail reports updated and has spoken with Rumford Fire Department about providing a means for them to interject local alerts without having to activate the emergency alert system.
“We will be in touch with all local agencies in the near future to invite them to be part of our community effort,” Saisi said.