Publication: Times Union
Low-power FM station with progressive message coming to Albany
WOOA will be part of network that also includes Troy, Schenectady broadcasters
A new low-power radio station run by advocates for environmental and progressive causes will be taking to the airwaves in Albany in January.
The broadcast tower for WOOA-FM went up last week atop the roof of the Social Justice Center on Central Avenue in Albany, said Mark Dunlea, chairman of the not-for-profit Green Education and Legal Fund, which holds the station’s federal broadcast license.
Broadcasting at 106.9 FM, the 100-watt station should have a broadcast radius of about 10 miles, meaning it could cover about 300 square miles or so around the city, depending on topography. (Albany County contains about 530 square miles.)
Dunlea said the station will be run by volunteers who will help local content, and will air nationally produced shows like Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now.” The new station is racing to meet a Jan. 12 deadline to start broadcasting according to the terms of its license approval by the Federal Communications Commission.
A longtime advocate for alternative energy, Dunlea is a member of People of Albany United for Safe Energy, 350 NYC and the People’s Climate Movement New York. He was co-founder of the state and national Public Interest Research Group operations; the state Green Party; the Capital District Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild; the Social Justice Center; and the Hudson-Mohawk Independent Media Center. He is married to Judith Enck, the former regional administrator the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
During the past 15 years, Dunlea has hosted public affairs radio shows on WRPI in Troy and WBAI in New York City.
Initial funds to support the new station came from the Troy-based, not-for-profit Sanctuary for Independent Media, which this summer began broadcasting its own low-power station in that city at WOOC (105.3 FM).
Dunlea said WOOA is now raising funds to repay the sanctuary for its financial support, which paid for the Central Avenue tower and other broadcast equipment. He said the goal is $25,000, and that donation are tax-deductible.
Some of the funds that are raised, he said, will also support the opening of WOOS in Schenectady, another planned low-power station that is part of the sanctuary’s network.
The three stations will promote “social and environmental justice and freedom of expression,” Dunlea said, with “commercial-free, hyper-local news and public affairs, plus shows highlighting local arts and culture.”
WOOA’s programming will include news coverage of politics at the state Capitol, he added.