With the New Year set to begin, so begins a new chapter for Pawling Public Radio (WPWL). The station is proud to announce that the construction of their new radio tower has been completed. Located in Wingdale, the new tower represents the culmination of nearly four years of effort.
The 55G, 140-foot galvanized steel tower will greatly expand the station’s broadcast radius. “The completion of the tower brings us one step closer to providing the southeastern part of Dutchess County, Putnam, and Western Connecticut with an information outlet, which has been lacking for a long time,” says WPWL Chairman Bill Bonecutter. “Our expectation is that we’ll be able to reach 40,000 plus people.” Once testing of the broadcast range is completed, WPWL officials are hopeful that the signal will cover a large amount of the Harlem Valley corridor, and possibly reach as far as New Milford, CT.
The construction of the tower was completed by area resident Ray Higgins of Radio Echo Communications Inc. The construction was completed in ten-foot sections, with the three-man crew often battling inclement weather during the five days of construction. The final stages of the project involve digging a trench to protect cables leading to the tower. Once this is complete, there will be an official announcement of “on air” status on 103.7FM and streaming on the radio station’s website at PawlingPublicRadio.org.
The construction of the tower was largely financed through generous private donations and grants. The station also recognizes the importance of their fundraising effort and membership fees. “This was a team effort,” says Mike Shustak, vice chair, and co-head of the tower project. “Many of our friends, contributors, and board members have donated either financially or given their time in various ways along the way,” he added. “I’ve been speaking about this for almost four years, and it’s finally near completion.” Additionally, WPWL is hoping to rent broadcast space from the tower, as well as the naming rights to the structure, which will both offset construction and maintenance costs in the future.
With construction of the tower complete, many new and exciting opportunities will open at WPWL. The station is looking to expand its selection of live programming, with an ultimate goal being a live news broadcast during morning and evening drive times. The news show would cover local, regional, and national topics, and would be broadcast five days a week. In addition, WPWL would seek content to compliment their latest additions including Dr. Jay’s Jazz Emporium, Astronomical Almanac, Money Matters, and My Generation. “I'm very proud of the work our community has done,” says Bonecutter. “They bring so many different voices to us, from all walks of life.”
WPWL has planned two fundraising events. On Thursday, December 21, the Music Hall Showcase series returned, hosted by Paul Toscano of “Porkchop Blues Time” and Jacque Roche of “Jacque’s Giant Hudson Valley Music Show.” The evening opened with Sebastian Ore, the 11-year-old piano player who recently won the Junior Division of Pawling’s Got Talent. Headlining the evening was a performance by Fresh Paint, and funk/soul band from the Hudson Valley. The event ran from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and the public was encouraged to attend with a requested $10 donation.
On Saturday, January 13, the station will also present its annual Chili Cook Off at the Pawling Fire House from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Attendants will get a chance to taste a wide variety of chili, with local celebrity judges awarding prizes in both the meat and meatless categories. First Place will net a $100 cash prize and a championship trophy. Tickets to the event are $7. The contestant entry fee is $20. All proceeds from the event will benefit WPWL.
With construction of the new tower complete and new programming on the way, there is a lot to be excited for at Pawling Public Radio. “It’s been a challenge, but a great achievement,” says Bill Bonecutter. “We just kept putting one foot in front of the other.” With the station’s broadcast radius about to expand, WPWL will also debut a new slogan: “103.7 – You can hear us now!”