W A S S – Bumpass

Screen Shot 2020-07-14 at 8.57.02 AMSouth from where I live, is a little community by the name of Bumpass, Virginia. As far as I can tell, the FCC have never licensed a radio station to this little community of 8,792 people.

The town was named for John T. Bumpass, one of the first postmasters in the area. Its post office is still in service.

It’s said that George Washington spent the night at Jerdone Castle in Bumpass on June 10th during his 1791 Southern tour as President. One of the many locations to boast “George Washington slept here.”

When I learned of this place, I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to start a radio station in this place. I could hear the top-of-the-hour jingle being sung now: W A S S – Bumpass.

There are only two problems with this fantasy, 1) the FCC has never given out radio station WASS call letters, and 2) it turns out that the proper pronunciation for Bumpass, is BUMP-us. It originates from the French surname Bonpass which means “good passage.”

Oh well, it made me chuckle.

It turns out I’m not the only person in the world that has had fun at the expense of the town of Bumpass.

If Local Radio Didn’t Exist, What Would You Create?

Which brings me to a more serious subject of creating a radio station in the 21st Century. What do listeners really want? Is there an appetite for delivering content over an AM or FM radio signal if one didn’t already exist in that location? How would you fund it? By advertising? Subscriptions? Donations?

What would you program? Talk, music, sports, weather or something else?

If a community doesn’t have a local newspaper or a radio station, like Bumpass, Virginia, how does it know what’s going on in its local area?


Turns out NEWSBREAK, which bills itself as “The Nation’s #1 Intelligent Local News” App serves Bumpass, Virginia. It relies on local content creators to supply it with local news newsbreakand perspectives. It also works with some of the country’s largest newspapers, magazines and television networks to broaden its scope of news coverage.

There is another App, “The Emergency Email & Wireless Network” that says it too covers Bumpass, but neither App really had any news about the goings-on in the town.

The Central Virginian

About thirty minutes up the road from Bumpass is Louisa, Virginia, location of The Central Virginian, a newspaper that provides some peripheral coverage of Bumpass. Though when I checked for the latest news, the most recent story “The Rumpus is Returning to Bumpass,” was published in April of 2018.

Maybe, Bumpass doesn’t generate a lot of news.

Creating Radio Today

Enough about Bumpass, Virginia, let’s tackle the bigger question about creating a radio station for the 21st Century. What would you need , or not need?

  • No need for a building, air personalities would broadcast from their homes.
  • No need for an AM or FM radio license, streaming audio is the future.
  • Some sort of computerized system to handle music, scheduling and advertising (if you chose to go with an ad-supported model).
  • A website that would allow you to stream your content, and deliver other information along with providing listeners a way to communicate with your radio station.
  • Maybe you create a podcast that capsulizes the day’s news and gets updated at specific times, but allows listeners to access it on their schedule.
  • Local doesn’t have to be live, it needs to be kept up-to-date and deliver information not readily available anywhere else that impacts the people of its service area.
  • Musically, this radio station would offer a variety of streaming options, each with the local component linked to its offering.

Actually, this model sounds similar to what many commercial AM & FM radio stations did to get through the spring months of 2020, due to COVID19. Some still are.

The internet is filled with other operators who have developed this type of radio station for their unserved or underserved communities, as commercial radio operators bought up radio signals and moved them into larger metropolitan areas.

wmex fm rochesterTwo such operations that come to mind are: “yourKawarthaOLDIES.com” and “1059WMEX.com” that are filling a gap left by Big Box broadcasters. WMEX-FM kwartha oldiesrecently added an LPFM to its operation, this allows locals in Rochester, NH to hear the station easily when in their cars.

Radio Today – It’s Only Limit is Your Imagination

There’s never been a more exciting or challenging time to be in the world of audio communications. Not since the invention of radio itself, has there been so much opportunity waiting to be discovered.

It just won’t be like it was when I started in radio over fifty years ago.

It’s going to be better!






Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio

13 responses to “W A S S – Bumpass

  1. Jeremy Lansman

    In the past, pre internet, I would do what I have always done. A “community” listener supported radio station. Today? I am thinking of popping on a personal low power FM signal (30 watts in South Africa unlicensed as I recall) and play modern or renaissance music. Freedom from apartheid in South Africa was in large part due to a “pirate” FM station. Thus, they are very easy going about radio regulation.


  2. Bob Harlan

    Great piece! Two other aspects are being community involved and promotion of the station which drives listeners to your stream. Also, this is a great time to start this to grown into what will be the dominant way to communicate through “the airwaves.” Finally, you must know what people really want out of a radio station. Millennials are half of the workforce now and Gen Z is gaining steam.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maynard Meyer

    Here in Madison, Minnesota (KLQP-FM 92.1 25KW) we are much smaller than Bumpass!! Our city of license is 1,500 with a handful of other towns in our listening area of similar size. We are pretty much “old school” but we do stream our signal 24/7, we record a variety of programs which are aired and then put up as podcasts. All of that is important…but nothing is more important than local involvement in the communities served. That’s one thing that has been removed from the formula or too many stations, along with their physical studios. I filed comments opposed to the change in the main studio rule, I think it was a mistake. We have been here for over 37 years now and I just bought out the final partner so have sole ownership of the operation. At age 68 I have no retirement plans but hope I can find someone with the same beliefs in localism when I turn over the reigns to someone else! Radio was fun 50 years ago…and it’s fun today!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another amazing article. The radio, and the media landscape, in general, is a lot different now than it was in 1970. In Southwest Georgia alone, there are towns like Camilla, Dawson, Leesburg, Sasser, and Sylvester that have radio stations licensed to them, yet serve the larger city of Albany. That’s mainly because the most money is basically spent in that larger community. Anyway, thanks for posting yet again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sadly, the FCC allowing local stations to leave their original city’s of license and move into major metropolitan areas was short-sighted. LPFMs were created to try and put the “horse back in the barn,” so to speak. What is happening are creative efforts by individuals to fill-in that gap by using the internet. I’m hearing stories from all over about how these operations are super serving their local communities and it’s inspiring.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Gregg Cassidy

    To be successful in in any radio market today you only need to do one thing; Have fun! If you can put a smile on a listeners face, you will have a friend for life. It’s that simple.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. There are a lot of news deserts, especially in small towns and poorer communities. It may not even need to be a continuous stream of programming. Podcasts can do the job with an enterprising reporter (even retired) producing programming. One wouldn’t need as many sponsors as a fully functioning radio station.

    Liked by 3 people

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