WEQY hits the airwaves

The East Side’s new community radio station, WEQY 104.7 FM, has hit the air, broadcasting out of a studio in Dayton’s Bluff. Calling itself “the voice of the East Side” the mostly volunteer-run station has about 30 hours of weekly programming scheduled. Organizers are hoping to attract more people interested in creating programming. (Patrick Larkin/Review)
The East Side’s new community radio station, WEQY 104.7 FM, has hit the air, broadcasting out of a studio in Dayton’s Bluff. Calling itself “the voice of the East Side” the mostly volunteer-run station has about 30 hours of weekly programming scheduled. Organizers are hoping to attract more people interested in creating programming. (Patrick Larkin/Review)

Soft broadcast kicked off at East Seventh Live

"We're here to get some starch in your slacks... to tell you the best of what's going on on your block," spits out DJ Huh What on a new radio show called New Lens.

The two men behind the show are hoping to air twice weekly, showing off fresh hip hop tunes on a new East Side radio station.

"Welcome to a new show on WEQY. It's called Dead Air," quips another radio host, who goes on to explain that the show is dedicated to the jam band the Grateful Dead.

Such bits are samples of what's to come from WEQY 104.7 FM.

The radio station that's been in the making since 2013 is finally up and running — East Siders can now turn their dials to 104.7 for some local, East Side-oriented radio content.

Broadcasting out of a studio on East Seventh Street in Dayton's Bluff, the community radio station will offer talk shows, specialty music shows, culturally specific features, live call-in shows and more, all rooted in the communities that make up the East Side.

The station comes out of years of effort, a lot of volunteer hours, and some perseverance.

In 2013 the FCC opened a window to apply for new stations, and Dayton's Bluff Community Council applied on behalf of the East Side as a whole. The community council has since secured funding through St. Paul STAR funds to help offset the station's startup costs, including the purchase of a broadcast antenna which is now mounted to the top of the 180 Degrees building at Johnson Parkway and East Seventh Street.

On Friday, Aug. 21, the first WEQY test signal was sent out throughout the East Side, but only at half power. It's full-power radius is expected to be about 3.5 miles, though it could reach as far as 10 miles away.

Though the signal has been tested, it will be playing only automated music for a couple of weeks until the station gets the go-ahead from the FCC and builds up a base of programming. From then on, it'll be original East Side content and live radio DJs, plus automated music and programming to fill the rest of the time.

A decent smattering of programming is already prepared, but with the station being on air 24-7, the 30 hours of weekly programming won't quite cut it. So, the volunteer team WEQY is comprised of is seeking other East Siders to put on radio shows of their own.

Seeing the programming coming together and a fully equipped studio all set up, Ben James, a long-time volunteer at various community radio stations, says things are looking good.

"This gives me hope," says Ben James, who's been busy helping to get the station up and running by teaching people how to create and edit material for broadcast.

A variety of programming is coming together — a couple of Native American men are planning to air a show, and there are interviews of local jazz musicians.

Vanessa Young from the Black Artists Movement has helped put together a show comprised entirely of developing young black youth showcasing their original music, including R & B jams, electronic music, hip hop, and more. The kids are as young as 13, but the material comes across polished and bright.

Another show called Basic Beats features the confident voice of East Sider Thom Derus, who freely chats about hip hop in between the beat-oriented music he DJs.

"He's just a natural," says James of Derus. "We're slowly building that kind of quality."

A program from Tim Cameron from 180 Degrees seeks to address mental health and wellness issues on the East Side — his first program features kids who are in a martial arts program down the street from the studio.

And volunteers from the station are in talks with the Historic Mounds Theatre to do broadcasts of the radio theater they put on.

Though more and more ideas are coming in, it's taking a while for content to get put together, as is common for any start-up radio station, says Brenda Reid, program manager for Dayton's Bluff District Council.

"It's been hard getting everybody to pull together," she says, adding that with the station now up and running, she expects excitement to build.

Reid says she's hoping more cultural content comes in representing the wide swath of ethnic groups present on the East Side, including Latinos, Hmong, Native Americans, African Americans, Somali people, Karen people, and more. She's also hoping the radio station will feature broadcasts in multiple languages.

East Siders who are interested in setting up a radio show of their own can contact the station at 651-621-2760 or at brenda@daytonsbluff.org, or visit the new station website, http://www.weqy.org.

WEQY isn't the Twin Cities' only new community radio station. Two others are on the way in St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood and Minneapolis' Phillips neighborhood. These stations will share content with WEQY and broadcast WEQY's material once they're up and running.

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ESRPatrickLark.

 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here