by Alex Hanson
Valley News Staff Writer
March 9, 2013
One of the joys of starting a small, community-based enterprise is the ability to do something an established organization can’t.
For example, when Royalton Community Radio starts broadcasting on the Internet later today, the scheduled programs include a one-hour block of conversation among members of the Vermont Law School Philosophy Club.
“I would suggest that that type of show doesn’t exist at too many radio stations,” said Todd Tyson, a Tunbridge concert promoter who is one of the founding board members behind Royalton Community Radio.
Starting with a mix of music and community affairs, the new station will start producing 16 to 18 hours a day of almost entirely local programming during an open house from 6 to 9 this evening. The public is welcome at the open house, and the programming will be available on the Internet at www.royaltonradio.org starting at 7 p.m.
For now, Royalton Community Radio’s programs will be available only on the Internet, but the station’s 10-member board plans to apply for a low-power FM license later this year. That would allow them to broadcast at 100 watts, enough power to reach a few miles beyond South Royalton, perhaps to the villages of Sharon and Bethel.
The idea of sending out a local radio signal has a strong appeal to the Royalton Community Radio board.
“We definitely want a terrestrial presence,” said Joe Andriano, a board member. “We have the ability to reach the entire world because of the Internet,” but locally, the lack of high-speed Internet service will make it hard for people to tune in.
And even if Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin makes good on his pledge to expand broadband Internet access statewide by Dec. 31, many people who might want to listen to a local station won’t be able to afford a smartphone or high-speed service, Tyson said. Sending out an old-fashioned signal that friends and neighbors can tune in is more democratic, he added.
It would also be more useful in the event of another disaster on the scale of Tropical Storm Irene, which wiped out homes, bridges and roads in Royalton and surrounding towns on Aug. 28, 2011, board members said.