The Smoky Mountain News has a series of stories on an emerging fight between the Canary Coalition, WCU and WCQS to operate a full-powered radio station, broadcasting on frequency 95.3 FM. Here's some excerpts and links to more coverage:
The Canary Coalition, a nonprofit group rooted in Jackson County that fights for air quality, might soon take to the airwaves via its own educational, community radio station.
Avram Friedman, executive director of The Canary Coalition, believes a local radio station would provide the entire environmental community in Western North Carolina with its own forum, plus open educational and networking opportunities for those involved. A range of community-oriented programs by other nonprofits could be included, and local musicians featured, Friedman said. … He adds: "This will be a radio station that offers programming found nowhere else, delivering in-depth coverage of environmental issues and news.”
There are, at rough count, at least 34 environmental organizations based in WNC. If The Canary Coalition successfully launches its radio station, it could open the region’s airwaves to issues that are of interest to other nonprofits as well, empowering the grassroots movement in WNC as never before.
That’s because The Canary Coalition’s radio station wouldn’t be a dinky, low-powered station with a broadcast reach of a measly two blocks or so.
The Federal Communications Commission has given The Canary Coalition the OK for a full-powered FM station. Regional radio experts say the station could potentially broadcast to a three-state audience, depending on where the transmitter is placed. The radio station would be based in Dillsboro, frequency 95.3 FM (for two decades where listeners in WNC have found public radio WCQS, see accompanying story).
Asheville public radio’s reach threatened by new FM station
A new FM radio station in Western North Carolina means more than 108,000 people living in the region might not be able to pick up their local National Public Radio station anymore.
That’s because the frequency involved, 95.3 FM, currently serves as a translator for WCQS, serving residents in much of Haywood and Jackson counties. It’s been in service for two decades.
University fights environmental group for rights to radio frequency
Western Carolina University, eager to broadcast Catamount sports and other school-based programming to a larger audience than it can currently reach, is fighting The Canary Coalition for rights to a new FM radio station.
The station could reach up to three states once on the air, depending on which Jackson County mountaintop the transmitter is located, according to regional radio experts.
WCU’s current radio station, WWCU 90.5 FM, on a good day is heard roughly from Sylva to parts of Buncombe County. The signal is spotty at best, however.
WWCU 90.5 FM currently reaches about 43,627 people. Meanwhile, 73,800 people potentially could hear the new FM radio station, according to Federal Communications Commission filings.
Asheville-based public radio station WCQS, the Cherokee Boys & Girls Club and a nonprofit Christian foundation based in Georgia also applied for the new frequency.
While the FCC tentatively awarded air rights for the new full-powered FM radio frequency to The Canary Coalition, a small grassroots environmental organization headquartered in Sylva, WCU is not going down without a fight.
WCU has hired the private Raleigh law firm Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey and Leonard, whose specialties include telecommunications and media law, to persuade the FCC to give it the license instead of The Canary Coalition.