New signal, music sale brings WERU into Bangor

Posted April 13, 2011, at 8:08 p.m.
WERU radio station manager Matt Murphy (left) and Americorps Vista Bangor outreach coordinator Meaghan LaSala in a WERU studio in Orland on Wednesday,  April 13, 2011.
WERU radio station manager Matt Murphy (left) and Americorps Vista Bangor outreach coordinator Meaghan LaSala in a WERU studio in Orland on Wednesday, April 13, 2011.

WERU-FM fans in Bangor haven’t been able to listen to their favorite community radio station in their hometown for a long time now. The 89.9-FM signal only comes in south of Dedham, and the former 102.9-FM signal was spotty to begin with and has been off-air now for about a year.

As of the morning of Sunday, April 10, however, listeners have been able to tune into the eclectic, Orland-based radio station by a new frequency, 99.9 FM, serving the greater Bangor area. Efforts to expand the station’s signal into Bangor have been stymied for years now, but since the fall of 2010, the station has been focused on getting that signal up and running.

“We applied to the FCC for a change in frequency license, which was granted last fall,” said WERU General Manager Matt Murphy. “It’s taken that time since then to get all the equipment purchased and find time to get up on the tower and service it. Last week, we did it, and Sunday we went on air.”

The 89.9-FM signal is loud and clear from around Dedham south, west toward Belfast and east toward Washington County. The former 102.9 signal was very weak, and it was interfering with the signal of talk, sports and news station WZON-FM 103.1-FM, part of Stephen King’s Zone Corp., which also owns WKIT 100.3-FM. WZON’s full-power license trumped WERU’s low-power translator, and last year, WERU’s 102.9 signal was taken down.

But instead of having that be that, Zone Corp. did a very nice thing. It contacted WERU, explained exactly what was going on, and offered to help WERU get a new license and frequency and the technology to get a new signal up and running.

“They worked with us to get a new one, and helped us with the cost of it and everything. They’ve really been terrific,” said Murphy. “Howie Soule, their chief engineer, is a really good guy, and so is Stephen King, of course. They’ve been really great in helping us make everything happen.”

Just as the new 99.9-FM signal went on-air, WERU did two important things: it printed up new bumper stickers bearing the updated frequency, and organized a new event in the Bangor area. WERU’s first-ever Spring Fling Music and Gear Sale is set for 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at Brewer Auditorium on Wilson Street. Gently used records and CDs and music gear including guitars, basses, drums, amps and more will be on sale. Admission is $3, or $5 for entry into a raffle. Longtime WERU deejay Sister Mango, a.k.a. Bangor’s own Deb Melnikas, will be spinning all day.

“We had a record sale at our now defunct Full Circle Fair, where we had records and books and all kinds of stuff, and we’ve had sales at our annual open house as well,” said Murphy. “Those were a much smaller scale, however. We wanted to do something bigger, and in the Bangor area. It’s kind of our Bangor debut.”

For a full schedule of WERU’s eclectic, locally staffed programming, visit www.weru.org.

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