Huntley station looks to graduate to radio

HUNTLEY – Volunteers at the Huntley Community Radio station are eying late 2013 to achieve their longstanding goal of being on residents’ local FM dial.

In October, for the first time since 2000, the Federal Communications Commission will accept applications from noncommercial, educational broadcasters to create low-power FM stations.

The rare opportunity means the all-day community station in Huntley could start transmitting on the radio, after broadcasting exclusively on the Internet since September.

“We want to increase our listeners right here in Huntley,” said Dorothy Litwin, who oversees programming at Huntley Community Radio.

Litwin said the station simply needs to stay on the air long enough to apply to the FCC, because it already meets certain criteria, such as having an all-volunteer staff and not relying on advertising.

If its application is successful, the FCC would allow the station by 2014 to broadcast at a signal strength no greater than 100 watts, roughly the amount of electricity that powers a typical household light bulb.

The signal would allow the station to reach listeners within a 10-mile radius of its newsroom in Deicke Park, 11419 S. Route 47.

The 50-plus volunteers at the station will have to detail programming and services they’ve offered in an application, so they’ll look to double station programming and increase its audience in the year ahead.

Currently, the station offers about 16 educational programs that cover topics from music to children shows and traditional newscasts, Litwin said.

The ultimate goal for the station is to keep the growing Huntley community connected and informed.

“We don’t want to become just a jukebox,” she said.

FCC licensure would let the station build a transmitter tower that could cost $75,000. The all-volunteer staff already has started to develop a fundraising campaign to cover it, Litwin said.

A group of Sun City residents launched the station in September, after planning the idea for nearly four years. Many community groups, such as Centegra Health System and the village, have sponsored and helped develop station programming.

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