Marking the Station’s 20th Anniversary, with a Stronger Signal Will Enable Station to Reach 135,000 More Listeners in Greater Lehigh Valley Coverage Area and Beyond.
WDIY, the Lehigh Valley’s public radio station, has received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to triple the station’s effective radiated power from 100 watts to 300 watts. The increase will expand the station’s primary service area by about 250 square miles, enabling WDIY to reach an additional 135,000 people, fully reaching the entire Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas.
Executive Director Wagner Previato called the FCC’s approval “a game changer” for the station. “Because of gaps in our signal coverage, WDIY has not completely reached its potential of being the region’s true source for local radio programming and NPR ® news. The power increase and enhanced technology will provide better reception to our current listeners while reaching a significant number of new ones. The combination will ensure a brighter future for WDIY in terms of service to the community as well as financially,” he said.
The station’s programming is a reflection of the greater Lehigh Valley’s need for news, public affairs programming and music, Previato said. Expanding the reach of the station’s signal will allow thousands more to be engaged, informed and entertained by WDIY’s diverse mix of programming.
The power increase coincides with WDIY’s 20th anniversary, which is being celebrated in 2015. The station began broadcasting on January 8, 1995. Four years later, the WDIY submitted its request to the FCC for increasing the power of its signal to 300 watts.
“Changes in technology have eliminated possible interference problems that have existed in the past,” he said, indicating that this was the key in obtaining FCC approval for the request for more power.
Board President Michael Kraynak heralded the FCC’s action as the most important development for WDIY since the awarding of the station’s license in the early 1990s. “We’re now in the process of observing our 20th anniversary and the power increase gives us all the more reason to celebrate. We’ll finally be able reach most corners of the Lehigh Valley as well as parts beyond,” he said.
The station’s signal currently is limited to sections of Lehigh and Northampton counties with marginal spill-over into adjacent counties. To fill in gaps within its primary coverage area, WDIY has been transmitting on two additional frequencies: 93.9 FM in the Easton-Phillipsburg area and 93.7 in Fogelsville-Trexlertown.
Kraynak indicated that besides improving reception in western and northern Lehigh County, the station’s signal will now reach Kutztown in Berks County and possibly beyond Quakertown in Bucks County. “We won’t know the precise limits of the new signal until implementation, but we do know that it will mean reaching a substantial number of additional listeners,” he said.
WDIY’s current service area includes a population of about 407,000. The increase is expected to boost this to approximately 545,000. According to Kraynak, the coverage area goes beyond this, but the exact impact then depends on the terrain, since hills can block weaker, more distant FM signals.
The power increase will require replacing the station’s current antenna and transmitter. The cost of the improvements could run as high as $120,000.
Kraynak said that the station’s board and management will launch a capital campaign to raise the funding for purchasing and installing the new equipment.
“The return on investment is virtually guaranteed, given that nearly two-thirds of our budget is directly tied to how many people we reach,” he said. The station’s number one source of revenue is listener contributions, while its second is underwriting support from local businesses and institutions. Kraynak said that in both cases, the station’s finances cannot help but improve as a result of having a stronger signal.
WDIY currently has a staff of five full-time employees and a budget of $550,000. About one-third of its revenues, $180,000, come from listeners and $165,000, from underwriting. The remainder is generated by public and private grants, as well as general fundraising activities. More than 100 volunteers dedicate 18,500 hours per year to help operate the station and provide vital programming.
“We are a public radio station in the truest sense,” said Kraynak “and look forward to enhancing our community outreach in the years ahead”.
Press Release Provided By: Michael Drabenstott