When folks think of Richmond, Virginia, the first word that comes to mind is often “historic.”
From early settlements before the Revolutionary War, to being the capital of the Confederacy, to the Civil Rights movement, Richmond has been the heart of the action.
Richmond today it is fast-growing metropolitan area with ample job opportunities with the Virginia State Government, Capitol One Financial, VCU Health System, DuPont and Dominion Energy Resources.
Despite the progress, Richmond’s urban core and affluent suburbs are two different worlds. According to local sources, the number one local issue is “urban sprawl.”
Commonwealth Broadcasting [link] is the largest public media shop in Richmond. Commonwealth owns and operates PBS station WCVE-TV, three radio stations, data services and educational outreach. Bill Miller, VP and GM of WCVE Radio kindly offers his comments about Richmond and WCVE:
Miller: While I think many radio users in town would bemoan the lack of or decline in interesting or diverse commercial radio formats, Richmond has proved itself to be a hospitable environment for noncommercial radio.
As is the case elsewhere, there has been a lot of consolidation in Richmond’s commercial media. The city used to have two, independent, daily newspapers; now we now have one: The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Four commercial television stations have nightly newscasts. Commercial radio outlets are dominated by two consolidated companies: Entercom and Radio One.
WCVE’S EXPANDING ROLE IN RICHMOND
Miller: For a couple of decades, our listeners have told us that they want more programming choices than what we have offered on WCVE. Classical and Jazz music were often mentioned by people want additional channels. Plus, there has been considerable demand for 24/7 public radio news and information.
For years we kept searching for available signals for additional programming but none were available until Fall 2017. Then we were able to purchase two commercial frequencies at 93.1 FM and 107.3 FM and convert them to noncommercial public radio. Soon these two frequencies will airing Classical music, plus Jazz for 25-hours-a-week. We are simulcasting programming now but in the Spring we will have two program streams.
MILLER: Our plan is to significantly grow our local content on both services, with more hours of locally programmed music, more hours of live interview and performance from our studios, more and better reporting on local stories for insert into the NPR newsmagazines, and new WCVE-produced interview and forum programming.
On the new 93.1 and 107.3, local classical music hosts Shawn Evans and Mike Goldberg will continue to broadcast classical music during the day. Our Jazz host, Peter Solomon, will have music during the evenings.
RICHMOND IS BECOMING AN “ESSENTIAL PUBLIC RADIO” MARKET
“Essential public radio” means, in part, all of the major public radio formats are available over-the-air to listeners. With the addition of Classical and Jazz on WCVE’s new sister station, Richmond stations will offer listeners more noncommercial choices. Here are the other players:
|Recent WNRN pledge drive|
• Triple A WNRN [link], is upgrading its signal to provide better coverage in Richmond. Miller is a fan of WNRN and he knows of their popularity:
MILLER: WNRN originates in Charlottesville but brings a unique AAA format to Richmond and towns throughout central and western Virginia. It has a loyal following here.
• NFCB-ish WRIR [link] has been serving Richmond for over a decade with a variety of volunteer music shows, political talk such as Democracy Now! plus weekly public radio programs not heard elsewhere in the market.
MILLER: WRIR is accomplished at celebrating local rock and new music performers, hosting community events, and providing hyper-local attention to community issues.
• WDCE [link] is one of the best college stations in the nation. Licensed to the University of Richmond, WDCE is an integral part of Richmond’s Indie community.
MILLER: WDCE opens the airwaves to the widest range of music, from Baroque to Hip Hop, and to the most diverse group of people - students, alums, and community contributors.
OTHER NOTABLE NONCOM STATIONS IN RICHMOND
• WNVU (89.7 FM) is one of the first stations outside of California to air Educational Media Foundation’s new Spanish-language Christian music format Radio Nueva Vida (“New Life”).
• KAWZ’s ("Christian Satellite Network) translator at 91.7 FM demonstrates why the FCC should consider ending the policy that allows noncommercial stations to operate in distant locations and no tie to the local community.
|CSN HQ in Twin Falls, 2,518 miles from Richmond|