RANGELEY — The
dream of a community radio station is becoming a reality in Rangeley.
On May
29, the Federal Communications Commission granted a construction permit
to establish an FM station, 90.5 WRGY, to broadcast from the town. David
McMillan, president of the Trans-National Networking Organization, a local
educational nonprofit behind the effort, said the next step will be for
the group to sit down with Saddleback Mountain officials to negotiate a place for an
antenna and with Lakeside Theater for a studio.
“I think it’s going to be a
great asset to the community,” McMillan said. “There are going to be a lot more
players that will help bring it to fruition.”
In October 2007, TRANET
started the FCC permitting process. The group had filed a permit request in
2001 but was denied. TRANET filed a second permit and overcame
several obstacles to obtain it.
“The chief one was interference,” McMillan said. “We got an engineer to search
out the best frequency.”
Originally, TRANET had considered transmitting from
91.1, but it turned out to be a frequency reserved for a Canadian radio
station. The FCC’s Canadian counterparts restricted the frequency.
“We
didn’t want to reduce the power of our signal so much,” McMillan said. “We went
back to 90.5 for more power and a cleaner signal.”
Getting radio reception is a problem in Rangeley, which is surrounded by mountains and is far
away from most transmitting locations. At most locations on the FM dial, the
listener is bound to get a lot of static, but not much music or
news.
“There’s no medium-range radio stations in Rangeley,” McMillan said. “We get WHOM off Mount Washington and a few radio stations in
French.”
The local station will have community-oriented programming, such as news, sports and weather reports.
“That’s going to evolve over
time,” McMillan said. “If someone wants a certain program, they can find a
sponsor. We definitely want to have timely reports about local events and
weather.”
Rangeley is a town of many summer and part-time residents and
retirees from all over the United States and the world. McMillan noted that this broad
cross-section of the population has a wide range of tastes in music and entertainment. The new radio station will seek to provide something for
everyone.
McMillan credited summer resident Ron
Hoar for helping lead the push for radio in
Rangeley. John Schinas, “a big ‘Northern Exposure’ fan,” according to McMillan,
and Ernie Gurney, “a real music fanatic,” have also played key roles in the
project.
The next step will be fundraising and getting
business sponsorships, McMillan said.
He said TRANET hoped to get the
transmitter up on Saddleback “before the snow flies” this fall and to begin
broadcasting shortly thereafter. 


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