Editor’s Note: I’ve been referencing a big announcement for some time now. We’re finally able to reveal it today. Welch is getting a radio station! We hope you’re as excited about as we are. Read the details in the press release below. And since we’re talking radio, click the play button to hear me talk about it via audio (and pardon the head cold).
WELCH—FM radio service is coming to Welch! Voice of Welch Communications, Inc. (VOW) has been granted a construction permit by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build a low-power FM (LPFM) radio station serving the Welch and Bluejacket areas.
VOW president, Tyson Wynn, said, “Providing radio service to my hometown area has long been a dream of mine. Since first working at Vinita’s KITO during high school, I have been in love with the medium of radio and its ability to provide immediate coverage of local news and events. I’m also thrilled that LPFM is designed to be a very local operation. Welchkins, including Welch school students, will have the opportunity to learn the craft of radio. Dave Boyd trained me and put me on the air at KITO when I was 16 years old, and we’re going to give another generation of young people that same opportunity.”
Wynn has operated a local news and information website, WelchOK.com, since 2009. The site has also offered live streaming audio of some Welch Wildcat sports events over the last three years, and Internet broadcasters in Miami and Vinita have followed WelchOK.com’s lead, providing online streaming of sports events in those communities.
“With many commercial radio stations being bought up by large corporate owners, many communities have absolutely no localism on their radio dial. Miami is fortunate to be served by KVIS/KGLC. Unfortunately, KITO in Vinita is now just a repeater for the Sports Animal in Tulsa. In all honesty, Welchkins could have a tornado bearing down on them and no one on the radio dial would have any information for them. We aim to change that,” Wynn said. “I hope folks will check out our site at www.iwantlocalradio.org for more information and to see how they can be a part of this opportunity.
The construction permit awarded to VOW allows 18 months to build the station and become operational. LPFM stations must be owned by non-profit organizations or government entities. VOW is an Oklahoma non-profit and is in the process of becoming a federally recognized 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
“To be sure, raising the funds to build the station is a big task, but my community is one of the most generous places I know. I have seen Welchkins come together and raise extraordinary amounts of money when they know the need is there and believe in the cause. I’ve fronted the money to fund the engineering and application process and will continue to give, but I cannot fund it alone. It is my job now to convince my neighbors how valuable a community resource a local radio station will be. If I do that, I have no doubt that it won’t be me but the entire town of Welch who builds this station.”
Wynn will donate WelchOK.com to VOW, and it will continue to operate as a sister resource of the radio station, which will also stream online and be accessible by computer and smart phone (and even car radios in the near future).
“I’m also hoping to build a strong relationship with other area media outlets like the Miami News-Record and the Vinita Daily Journal. Print media has its role to play, and I’m hoping we can all work together to make Welch the best informed small town in the state,” Wynn said.
The FCC granted VOW’s construction permit Jan. 17, 2014, so VOW is still in the very early stages of planning and fundraising. As new information develops, it will be posted on www.iwantlocalradio.org.