Volunteers could be bringing new sound to the airwaves in Hillsborough with a community radio station.
The idea grew out of discussions at Cup-A-Joe coffee shop, said Bob Burtman, who has been leading the efforts. He now has more than 80 people signed up to volunteer.
“We’ll try and capture what is making Hillsborough a very healthy community right now and export it to the world out there,” Burtman said. “Hillsborough is full of creative energy right now.”
The station will broadcast music and public affairs programming with a focus on live music, Burtman said. Plans include performances in the studio and live broadcasts from performances in the region.
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“Twenty bands come to the Triangle every day from out of town, so why not try to get them in the studio?” Burtman said.
Planning for the station, which will have the call letters WHUP, has been going on for four years. Congress helped in 2010 with legislation to help community stations.
The group applied with the Federal Communications Commission about a year ago for a frequency, and the application was approved in February. The frequency will be FM 104.7.
It will be only a 100-watt station, so over-the-air broadcast won’t reach much past the town limits, but like WCOM (103.5 FM) in Carrboro, the community radio station will reach around the world with Internet streaming.
“We are not reinventing any wheels,” Burtman said. “We want to emulate the best ones. We want to bring an eclectic mix of locally produced, host-driven programming that reflects the knowledge of the DJs.”
The station plans to commit to studio space in January, up-fit the studio in March and begin broadcasting in May.
“We have done a lot of research to figure out how to make this work,” Burtman said.
There are also plans to hire a station manager within a year of beginning broadcasting. Plans also include maybe hiring a development director and information technology person.
Most of the personnel, though, will be volunteers. The station is looking for expertise in website development, social media, opening mail and, of course, on-air personalities.
Hillsborough singer-songwriter Tom Maxwell, formerly of Chapel Hill band The Squirrel Nut Zippers, has agreed to volunteer for WHUP.
“As a musician,” Maxwell said, “it just means that I and a lot of musicians can be heard.”