October 17, 2013
Community radio is coming to Hatteras Island
By CATHERINE KOZAK
A community-run radio station on Hatteras Island that has been in the works for years is finally close to being launched.
Hatteras has been granted approval by the Federal Communications
Commission to have an existing commercial license transferred to a
“It’s very exciting,” said Jean Taylor, past
president of the Radio Hatteras board. “It’s a tremendous opportunity
The FCC approval of a nonprofit license for
Radio Hatteras was posted online Oct. 1, right before the federal
government shut down. But the official notification has not yet been
Taylor said that the genesis for the station goes
back more than six years ago when Jim Kinghorn, then general manager of
the Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative, saw the need to enable the
community to get emergency information during and after storms. The
idea quickly expanded into creating a unique resource to share news,
stories, and general information about schools, politics, culture, and
current events on the island.
A Buxton property owner
who lives in northern Virginia, David Wilson, sold the license to Radio
Hatteras for a nominal fee, Taylor said.
Antennas will be
located on towers owned by the cooperative in Buxton and Waves. In the
near future, another antenna is expected to be installed somewhere in
between the two villages.
As a non-commercial broadcaster, the
station – with call letters WHDX-FM and WHDZ-FM -- will initially be
operated entirely by volunteers, said Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy, the
8-member board’s acting president.
“That’s the way it’s going to be until we get our feet on the ground,” she said.
Eventually, a station manager will be hired to maintain programming and equipment.
members have had numerous conversations with organizers of WOVV-FM in
Ocracoke and have visited the studio on Silver Lake in the heart of the
village. Billed as Ocracoke Community Radio, the nonprofit
station went on the air in June 2010 and streams live from its website.
The Dare County Board of Commissioners provided $20,000 for
initial costs for Radio Hatteras, Goodloe-Murphy said. Additional funds
will need to be raised for the staff manager, a small studio, and other
needs, she said, although the costs – and funding sources -- are still
to be determined.
Goodloe-Murphy said that, similar to the
Ocracoke station, the board envisions having live and pre-recorded
programming, everything from local news and weather, music, interviews
with political and community leaders, shows that focus on school and
civic projects, and up-to-the minute emergency information from Dare
County Emergency Management.
“The sky’s the limit,” she said.
Hennessey, an Avon resident with decades of television and radio
broadcast production experience, has been coordinating with other
technical wizards on the island in assisting Radio Hatteras with the
Hennessey said that the station would be initially
operated as standard analog channel. But down the road, he said, it
might be worth installing digital sub-stations, which can provide a
“Our plan is, first of all, to get on the air,” he said. “Then after that, we’ll work on boosting the signal.”
Once the nonprofit license is in hand, the station will next be issued a construction permit.
tower in Waves is 80 feet and in Buxton, 182 feet. Buxton, however, has
“line of sight” issues, in other words, the signal is partially
blocked. On the northern end of the island, Hennessey said, the
signal could reach as far as Oregon Inlet, but probably not Manteo.
with an Internet connection, however, will be able to hear the
station’s live stream from any location. Students in the technical
department at Cape Hatteras Secondary School are currently designing
the station’s website.
“We’re sort of hoping to get the online service even before we get the signal going,” Hennessey said.
If all goes well, he said, Radio Hatteras could be on the air by early 2014.
Donations for Radio Hatteras can be mailed to P.O. Box 339, Frisco, NC 27936.