Beaming From The Mountaintop Using Aural Ammunition

A few weeks ago we got to visit a couple of former slight Brooklyn acquaintances (and their baby) who have set up a vibrant outpost of their former pirate, now online radio station, free103point9, at their new, permanent home on a 30-acre farm in Acra, Greene County, the beautiful Catskill Mountains. Free103point9 is not your normal online station: it specializes in “Transmission Arts,” i.e. performers and artists who dissect and rewire the very process of sound transmission. (It also endorses “noise, free jazz, field recordings, dub, turntablism, and avant-folk.”) Wave Farm includes a sound sculture garden, a Study Center, an Artist-in-Residence program, and also hosts occasional events, such as last weekend’s Campfire Sounds and, on August 25, a whole day of music around the theme of Animals.

Now, the good people at Wave Farm are hoping to snap up a genuine terrestial “educational” radio station that the FCC might be making available for the northern Catskills. Only problem is, they don’t have much time to get their act – and finances – together. I print the following e-mail in entirety in the hope it inspires some local residents to pitch in:

Part of Wave Farm’s Sound Sculpture Garden is housed in an old mobile home on the property.

In October, the Federal Communications Commission will allow applications for full-power educational radio stations. free103point9 has been working with a few national non-profit groups to see if there is room on the dial in upstate New York for such a station.

We recently got back a preliminary engineering study that shows that there is room for such a station covering almost all of Greene County, and about half of Columbia County, and the very south part of Albany County. The signal reaches very close to Ulster County, especially near I-87 and the Hudson River. The cities of Cairo, Hudson, Catskill and Coxsackie are all well-covered, and the area extends all the way to Chatham and the Taconic Parkway.

That’s all the good news. The bad news is we have very little time, and need to raise a good deal of money quickly to apply for the frequency. To apply, you need to have a full-fledged engineering report done, and you need a broadcast lawyer to fill out the application (the FCC throws out applications if even one line is filled out incorrectly). This costs between $5000 and $8000.

So we are asking you to pledge whatever you can to help bring an art radio station to upstate New York. Anyone pledging money will be in on the first decisions that will shape the station. You want to do a show? No problem. You want to help decide what shows are on, and what direction the station takes, then donate now.

free103point9 will make our new Study Center in Acra, New York the studio for the station, and we want to make sure it is an important voice for local artists of all types, as well as meeting educational, journalistic and musical needs in the community.

Please e-mail Tom Roe at tr @ to make a pledge for whatever amount you can promise. We will only collect on the pledges if we raise enough money to pay for the engineering study and the broadcast lawyer. There’s no guarantee we will get the station just by applying — a church group or a public radio giant could be stiff competition — but we think we have a good chance and the payoff is worth the risk.

Basically, by Aug. 15 we need to have the money raised, and get the engineers and lawyers working to meet the October deadline.

Any help you can give to these efforts will be appreciated. If you can find others who would be interested in helping, then by all means contact them and invite them to this meeting.

And if you can pledge any amount of money to these efforts, please e-mail back.

See for more information about free103point9.

It’s not quite as aesthetically pleasing as a Hammond organ but some of the principles are the same: the interior of the mobile home sound sculpture garden.

If you can help, please do.

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November 2021