The eclectic, thoroughly fascinating, and enter-taining Riverwest Radio (RwR), which has been available through web broadcast, or “podcast,” has been granted a construction permit for a low-power FM station in the Milwaukee area by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
For all those involved with making Riverwest Radio happen, this is a big deal. But there’s a lot of work ahead to reach its target date of being on the air by March 10, 2016. Caitlin Reading, assistant manager and vice president of the board of directors for Riverwest Radio, believes $40,000 will need to be raised to construct a radio tower and create studio space for the station.
The studio space right now is hard to miss. It’s in the storefront window of Riverwest Film & Video, located at 824 E. Center St. Perhaps you’ve seen one of the broadcasts taking place already; perhaps you’ve even been asked to join in.
‘There’s a camera in front,” said Reading. “It’s directed on the people on the mic, or sometimes on the street where it’ll capture people walking to the Fuel Cafe or people going to Centro (café). Sometimes people are asked to jump on the air with us.” This video footage can be seen on bambuser.com, which, according to Reading, is similar to YouTube.
Riverwest Radio pro-duces eight hours of broadcast material every 24 hours, with shows being produced from 3 p.m. – 11 p.m.
“Every show is different,” said Reading. Shows are then rebroadcast, and sometimes even other engaging radio shows are played from other parts of the world,
all of which come to 24 hours of broadcasting daily.
Pretty impressive, considering that this station had its origins in the Occupy movement of Garden Park at the corner of Locust and Bremen Streets back in 2010. Xavier (“Xav”) Leplae was involved with various discussions during this time when the idea of a radio station was brought up. By 2011, Riverwest Radio came to fruition and has been broadcasting continuously ever since for almost three years now. According to Reading, “Xav has borne the brunt of expenses and labor” for it all.
The station is run entirely by volunteers. “It’s hard to say how many there are,” says Reading, “but there are 42 producers. All put in one hour of producing a show per week.” Obviously, these volunteers help keep costs down. “We manage with a small budget,” said Reading. “We have lots of hand-me-downs, we get small donations, some larger fundraising, some fundraising on our behalf, and we get underwriters and sponsors for a program.”
Along those lines and in honor of the construction permit the FCC granted to Riverwest Radio, there’s going to be a celebration-fundraiser at the Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts, 926 E. Center St., which will take place Friday, December 19, from 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. “There’ll be music by our in-house Riverwest Radio All-Stars,” said Reading. “And there’s going to be a contest to give us our tagline. We’re asking people to submit a phrase.” Reading gives examples like “the station that rocks” or “the music of your life.” Submissions are being accepted through December 15, and you can simply drop them off at Riverwest Film & Video (please include your name and contact information).
Also at this event will be the unveiling of the station’s call letters and where you’ll be able to find it on your FM radio dial. Plus, if you’re still in a celebratory mood after this event, coming up March 7, 2015, Riverwest Radio will be having its biannual Mardi Gras-themed Silent Art Auction and Anniversary party (details to arrive in the upcoming months).
Getting to this historic point in Riverwest Radio’s short life, it’s safe to say, has been a worthwhile experience for all involved. Through it all, and in the end, though, Reading maintains that, “Our absolute No. 1 ultimate goal is to provide a platform for people to speak and speak to each other.”
Until the radio gets up and running and hits the airwaves, you can still listen to Riverwest Radio each and every day at riverwestradio.com.