South 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 and 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.
Two such operations that come to mind are: “yourKawarthaOLDIES.com” and “1059WMEX.com” that are filling a gap left by Big Box broadcasters. WMEX-FM recently 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!