WHITMIRE — The Federal Communications Commission has granted Whitmire’s Tyger Enoree River Alliance a construction permit for a low power FM radio station in Whitmire. The permit was approved Jan. 16.
Jon Durham, president of TERA, said that the FCC opens a filing window about every 10 years for applications for low power FM (LPFM) radio stations. “It’s not something that just happens any time,” Durham said. “You have to kind of keep up with it.”
Durham said someone mentioned to him last October that the filing period would be opening up this year, so he was on the look out for the application period.
The Tyger-Enoree River Alliance is a 50(c)3 charity that advocates for the health of the Tyger and Enoree Rivers. Because they have a public awareness plank in their mission statement, Durham thought applying for a radio station would be a great opportunity.
Durham said he did the research on what was required to apply for the construction permit. “Because Whitmire is in the middle of a national forest, we’re not in a big net area, and there’s not a lot of competition,” Durham said. “There was a lot of space available on the dial.”
Being in a small market is what Durham said he feels worked in their favor to obtain the construction permit and said TERA’s mission was exactly what the FCC was looking for in a community based broadcast.
“The license to broadcast on 96.5 FM comes with the obligation to provide our listening area with community based programming,” Durham said about the programming.
Because TERA is a 501 (c) 3 charity, they do not accept grant funding, and rely solely on community donations and fundraising efforts. Although Whitmire now has the construction permit, Durham wants the community to understand it’s just a start — there is still a lot of fundraising that will need to be done to make the radio station a reality.
“It’s up to the community to support it if it’s going to exist,” Durham said. “We just presented the opportunity.”
Durham said that over the next several months, TERA will organize and hold fundraisers to support the building of an actual station. Their goal is $10,000. He said the bottom dollar estimate just for equipment for a radio station is around $7,000.
“Not only will we need to raise money for the station, but for reoccurring costs to run it,” Durham said.
Although there is still a lot to do before thinking about actual programming and staffing for the station, Durham said that he believes they will cover a lot of what is going on in the national forest on the station.
“We may invite guests to talk about fishing in our local rivers, maybe some hunting experts,” Durham said.
Events and things local going on in the Whitmire area will also plan to be mentioned on the station, according to Durham.
Durham said a meeting is in the works between TERA members and the community to help develop and construct future plans for the station.
“Once we embark and get things in order, we’ll update the community,” Durham said.
Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108.