November 6, 2000

College Radio Station to Increase Broadcast Range Nov. 12


MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Middlebury College radio station WRMC 91.1 FM, the only independent, student-operated station in Addison County, will enlarge its listening range considerably when it begins broadcasting from a newly installed transmitter at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12. A new antenna was mounted on the smokestack of the College’s heating plant on Oct. 25 and provides higher elevation than the current location at Proctor Hall. The improved equipment will increase the station’s frequency from 100 to 2,900 watts, extending the broadcast range from a 20-mile radius to one that is more than 40 miles.

"We’re excited because, for the first time, listeners from as far away as Burlington and Rutland will be able to tune into the station," said Jenny Marder, manager of WRMC and a student at the College.

The new broadcast range will be dependent on geographical area. While the signal will be blocked by the Adirondack Mountains to the west, it will often reach farther to the east. In good weather, the station’s range to the north may extend all the way to the Canadian border.

This upgrade marks the culmination of an 11-year, $60,000 project. The idea for the improvement was proposed in 1989 by WRMC’s original founder, Middlebury College alumnus John Bowker, Jr., a member of the class of 1952. Since that time, the WRMC staff has been setting funds aside for the equipment and its installation out of the station’s budget.

Founded in 1949, WRMC celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. For roughly the last two years, in anticipation of the upgrade, the station has been increasing its air time and providing a more structured schedule for announcers. Now more than 100 staff members operate the station 24 hours a day, seven days a week. "We currently plan to buy the equipment necessary to operate the station automatically in time for our break in December," said Marder.

WRMC’s programming is oriented towards the community during the day and College students at night. The station airs all types of music, including world, folk, jazz, blues, rock,

punk, hip hop, techno, industrial, ska, reggae, and classical. It also offers the only source of alternative programming in Addison County, with most of the rock music that is played on the station coming from independent labels.

News and sports are also regular features of WRMC’s programming. Seven-minute newscasts from the Associated Press wire air every other hour on the hour. A daily news show covers international and national news, political and sports commentary, and local and college issues. On Sundays, evening programs include talk shows, game shows, interviews, and a preview of the station’s "Album of the Week." WRMC is currently airing all of the College’s football games. The station’s staff plans on alternating with Middlebury-based WFAD Radio to cover the College’s hockey games as well.

New WRMC announcers are required to serve as interns for six months by working under the guidance of an experienced announcer, and to attend a comprehensive training session before broadcasting on their own. Even then, it is sometimes difficult for a new deejay to obtain a time slot since so many students are interested in working at the station.

This summer WRMC began streaming its signal through, a Web site which broadcasts about 80 college radio stations using real audio. Through this site, the station can be heard from anywhere in the world.

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