Columbus, Ohio: There is an uprising brewing in Columbus, Ohio over whether to keep jazz music on a community radio station as its music format or return the format to talk radio programming. This is Part One of a series about WCRX-LP. Follow this story and discover just what the fuss is all about.
In Columbus Ohio, there is an uprising of sort. A small community radio station, WCRX-LP, formerly a little known and seldom listened to talk radio station, transformed itself into a voice for jazz. The small FM radio station was immediately discovered and embraced by a jazz starved audience. The last commercial jazz radio station in Columbus had gone off the air almost three years before. For three years, jazz fans in this large metropolitan area had nowhere to turn for jazz on the radio dial.
Introduction To The Uprising
WCRX-LP is a low power FM radio station (LPFM). An LPFM license can only be owned by a governmental body or non-profit organization. Bexley Public Radio Foundation, (BPRF), was formed as a non-profit organization to satisfy the ownership requirement. As a non-profit, it applied and was granted a low power radio station license to operate as WCRX-LP. The station shares the 102.1 FM frequency with another group. Both stations would eventually broadcast 12 hours each per day, 7 days a week.
It was rumored the BPRF founder had visions of notoriety, money and a desire to spread the word, whatever that might be, in his affluent neighborhood. There was one problem, the founder had no radio broadcasting experience, no engineering, computer, audio or technical experience, or the knowledge of how to attract listeners in his own back yard. He was unable to create an affiliation with the city officials of the suburb in which he lived and the station went virtually unknown within his community. For almost four years, he could only attract a few regular listeners. Based on a random survey of listeners, it was not the kind of talk or programming people wanted to hear.
Under a timeshare agreement with a separate group that shares the frequency, both groups provided certain equipment and skills necessary for both groups to broadcast. BPRF's founder created a feud with the frequency timeshare partner by trying to charge the other group and profit from the use of his contribution of the antenna and transmitter, while all the while he was using their computers, technology and engineering support, without charge. Perhaps, the fate and success of the station had been compromised or plagued from the start.
It has been reported that under the guise of being a non-profit, the founder recruited talented and experienced former radio people to “volunteer” to help build and operate the station. The "volunteers" pledged time, equipment and money under the promise and trust of future payment. Those volunteers and consultants all left in protest or because it is alleged that payment for equipment and services went unpaid to them, or because the founder believed he was losing control and asked them to leave. Some threatened to sue for payment or filed a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General. Former and current staff and volunteers have chosen to fight back and end the abuse, dissension, neglect and alienation.
… It's a shame that a lame duck license owner, who has done nothing with the radio frequency at all, now wants to destroy the hard work of a man who is actually serving the needs of our community. The new Station Manager (name omitted) has filled an artistic void, sunk his own money into an endeavor that makes him no money, improved the station's facilities, and is providing this area with one of the very things that makes Columbus one of the iconic arts communities in the Midwest. The Jazz Arts Group, CAPA, The Greater Columbus Arts Council, other Columbus area arts presenting organizations, and especially Columbus area jazz musicians should be lining up to support this worthy cause. Don't let the GRINCH steal Columbus Jazz!
-- Listener Quote/Comment
So what's all the fuss about and what is this talk of an uprising?
This is Part One of a series about WCRX-LP. Follow this story and discover just what the fuss is all about.
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Next: Part Two - Alleged Mismanagement
Want to help Keep Jazz On WCRX-LP, Jazz 102.1 FM? No matter where you are in the world reading this article, if you’re a jazz lover and want to keep jazz on the radio airwaves, visit the Jazz 102.1 FM, WCRX-LP website and sign their online petition at http://www.myjazz102.com.
See 2008 ThisWeekNews Article - Station finds a home in Whitehall Garage
See 2011 Dispatch Article - Small radio stations agree to split airtime | The Columbus Dispatch