Public Radio 90 gets new transmitter, by Gregg Beukema

As we ring in the New Year, I want to thank you for your continued investment in Public Radio 90.
Thank you for helping us remain an institution that so many listeners trust and turn to for quality, inspiration, entertainment and reliable news and information.
Thank you for your high expectations, and for your feedback that helps us determine the best blend of local and National Public Radio programming unique to our Upper Great Lakes listening audience. You do good work.
Your unwavering commitment to Public Radio 90 and local public radio here in our Upper Great Lakes region, especially during the past few tumultuous budget years, helped convince the NMU Board of Trustees that it was worth investing in a new transmitter to provide you with a better listening experience.
During 2006, your membership dollars made it possible for us to bring you in-depth news and analysis from National Public Radio, the BBC and our own Public Radio 90 newsroom, classical music programming—including both local fare on Superiorland Concerts and internationally renown orchestral and operatic performances,0701lop jazz, blues, folk, international and traditional music, storytelling with Dick Estell, “the Radio Reader,” giggles with the Car Talk guys and Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion, along with a variety of programming unique to our area like 8-18 Media, April Poetry, Media Meet and Holiday Readings and Remembrances, as well as special programs throughout the year to celebrate special days and remember those who made a difference.
Thanks to you, Public Radio 90 listeners with an Internet connection can tune in their favorite programs from anywhere in the world at www.nmu.edu/wnmufm
So, if you travel to warmer climates during the winter months you can stay in touch with home and not miss a single episode of “Radio Reader.”
Our new broadcast transmitter is on the air, and the station will be the first in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to offer digital HD radio to its listeners.
Not only will the new transmitter provide a stronger, more reliable broadcast signal, (new technology versus old technology), the static and hiss often associated with traditional analog radio is virtually eliminated when you listen on the digital HD sub-station frequencies.
Once the project is complete, the new digital technology will allow Public Radio 90 to enhance and expand our program services. That means within a short time, we could offer listeners multiple programming choices, such as all classical, all jazz and all news and information program streams.
Right now, the only place we know of that is stocking HD radio receivers is Radio Shack in Marquette. The Accurian Tabletop HD Radio is priced at $99 after rebates if purchased by the end of December. You can find a variety of online HD Radio distributors by going to www.hdradio.com
In order to be able to listen to the HD2 substations hidden between your regular stations, be sure the HD radio you purchase has multi-channel or multicasting capabilities.
Our Public Radio 90 endowment fund was established in 2006, thanks to an unexpected bequest gift from a longtime listener and member in Calumet. While annual memberships, grants and underwriting are critical to the success of Public Radio 90 and provide an annual base of support for programming, future success is predicated on our ability to build a sustainable source of funding. Legacy gifts to the Public Radio 90 endowment fund will help us build a sustainable source of funding that provides for today, tomorrow and the future as well.
We’ve had a wonderful year here at Public Radio 90, but our work isn’t done yet. We still need to raise at least $500,000 every year from listeners and regional businesses just to sustain our current station operations. And even though you can enjoy listening to the new and improved Public Radio 90 broadcast signal right now, we still need to raise another $30,000 to reach the $75,000 in local matching dollars required to receive our $85,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to complete the new transmitter project.
From all of us at Public Radio 90, Happy New Year. We look forward to serving you in the future with even more of the best of what public radio has to offer.
Thanks again for making a difference.
—Gregg Beukema

Six people who made a difference
Can it be only three-and-a-half years since the budget axe swung very close to the heart of Public Radio 90? Three-and-a-half years since (other than a few staff members and a handful of this station’s great friends) it appeared that the voices of Bob Edwards, Lianne Hanson and Stan Wright would be silenced, or worse, replaced by announcers from downstate or even out-of-state.
The budget picture never was painted more clearly than on a dark day in March 2003, when the staff was called into a cold TV studio and got the news: the budget had been slashed, and it looked like the forty-year history of WNMU-FM was going to end.
To quote John Belushi in Animal House, “It ain’t over ’til we say it’s over.” Yes, it took many extra hours of staff time, but the real key to this Herculean effort was the longtime listeners to this station who volunteered their time and sent funds in record numbers.
And, as always, there is a handful of people willing to jump in with both feet to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
The initial boost, the attention-getter, was provided by Jon Gooding of Feltner Plumbing and Heating and Steve Unger, now of Renaissance Repair, who purchased a large ad in local publications explaining the situation and calling on station members to attend the NMU Board of Trustees meeting to express their thoughts.
Then there was what station manager Evelyn Massaro and I refer to as the group of three: Stu Bradley, an investment representative from Edward Jones in Marquette; Ron Katers, president of MK Stores (Snyder Drugs); and Pat Ryan, editor and publisher of Marquette Monthly.
These three people sat through countless hours of meetings, opened doors, counseled and provided the feedback that kept us on course through turbulent waters.
And finally, there was Dave Brule Sr., president of Systems Control/Northern Star Industries, manufacturers of the BOSS Snowplow—a longtime supporter of the arts in the Upper Peninsula, Brule provided an injection of funding in a one-to-one match for a Challenge Grant that really got the ball rolling in that first fundraiser after the cuts were proposed.
To these six folks, we all owe a debt of gratitude. Without their guidance and support, we would be listening to the hiss of “no signal” instead of the spectacular sounds that you hear from the new transmitter.
—Gregg Beukema

 

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