HUNTLEY – Allen Pollack was in The Villages, Florida – what he calls "Sun City on steroids" – six years ago when the idea hit him.
The commercial radio station he and his wife were listening to was broadcasting community-focused programs around the clock. Pollack, who'd been retired from a career in computer programming for two years at the time, wondered why his hometown didn't have the same access to constant, localized news.
He decided to head up a push to bring community radio to Huntley.
"Our community has kind of had a dearth of communication. There really wasn't much else out there," Pollack said. "So, I thought this was going to be big time stuff. People can turn on the radio and get real-time news."
After facing rejection trying to create a commercial station, Pollack decided to create a community radio station – a nonprofit station operated on a volunteer basis. Pollack's vision six years ago is approaching a reality, as Huntley Community Radio is about two months from lighting up the "On Air" sign.
The goal is to be broadcasting live on the internet in September, and be prepared to go live on FM when the FCC implements a December 2010 bill that approved the use of low-frequency signals by community stations.
"We're going to make our mistakes up front so that once we begin to broadcast, we can flip our switch and be on (FM) radio," Pollack said.
Pollack and Director of Program Development Dorothy Litwin are currently finalizing a schedule of programs.
From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Pollack said, the station will broadcast strictly original, live content. In the morning, they'll air local news, sports and weather, with pertinent regional and national news mixed in.
A schools update will include events, lunch menu and major tests going on, "so that parents are well aware of the events taking place at the schools at that time."
The station also wil run a call-in program and talk show in order to "engage people with things that are happening in our community." Other programs will be led by local experts and center on health, education, recreation, cooking and community service, among other topics.
"It's basically taking organizations in our community and making sure (listeners) are aware of services that are available," Pollack said.
From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., the station will re-broadcast much of the day's programs, as well as splash in some new shows, including an hourlong show produced by the high school.
Before the station can go live, though, Pollack and Litwin need to fill out the roster of volunteers. Right now, the station is at about 40 volunteers, but Pollack said he'd like to get to about 100.
Litwin said about 40 people came to a recent ice cream social about the station, which included information on how to volunteer. Another such gathering is scheduled for Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the radio's home base at the Deicke Park building social hall, 11419 Route 47, Huntley.
"People asked, 'Well, why are you doing all of this? What's in it for you?'" said Litwin, a retired program director of TV stations in Chicago, Milwaukee and Cincinatti. "Well, nothing is in it for us. We just think it's a good idea and want to make it work.
"We hope some day the young people in the community will take over, and we can just kind of sit back and watch it work."
Huntley Community Radio Ice Cream Social:
What: An open event to introduce the station to the community and inform people of ways to volunteer.
When: 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 14
Where: Deicke Park building social hall, 11419 Route 47, Huntley