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What is WBTV-LP?

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Burlington's newest low-power radio station - coming soon! 

99.3FM, WBTV-LP, Burlington is the city’s newest low-power radio station. Granted a construction permit by the FCC late in 2014, WBTV is supported by the three public access media centers in Burlington – VCAM, RETN, and Channel 17/Town Meeting Television. WBTV has until May 2016 to build this station – tech, people power, and fundraising. There are already over a dozen locals working to make this station a reality by working on station governance, tech, outreach, and fundraising.

WBTV will broadcast at 100 watts – about a 3 mile radius around the city of Burlington – and online. The studio will be located in the growing community media center at the VCAM & RETN space at 208 Flynn Ave. Burlington, VT.

MISSION (draft)

To connect people in Burlington with community radio that is created and curated locally, dedicated to the free and creative exchange of ideas and culture, and reflective of the diversity of our city. We do this by teaching the art of radio production and illuminating stories that are vital to our community.


WBTV-LP’s programming will be a reflection of the mission and vision of the station, informed by the desires of the community (learned by outreach efforts), and the interests and skills of programmers who train to be on the air. We expect programming to be a mix of music, talk, live events, locally pre-recorded shows and podcasts and content from community television channels.

WBTV-LP will have a deep commitment to training community members in the art of making radio. This will allow for a range of people to get on the air, no matter their prior radio experience, age, or tech skills.

The “Community” of Community Radio

Who will run the station?

WBTV-LP will be overseen by a Radio Advisory Council (RAC) – a leadership body made up of programmers, listeners, staff/board representatives of the Channel 17/Town Meeting Television, RETN and VCAM, and community members with a range of radio and non-profit management skills.

How do decisions get made at the station?

The station's organizational model is still under discussion, but decisions will be collaborative in nature, involving the advisory committee, volunteers and PEG stakeholders.

How can I get a show?

A programming committee, will recruit, review and train programmers sometime in 2016, once the station’s on-air date is confirmed. Membership of the committee will be made up of reps from the RAC, listeners, and programmers.  

Is there paid/permanent staff or is it volunteer?

The station will not have paid staff, rather, small portions of some VCAM staff duties -- and on a limited basis, RETN, Channel 17/Town Meeting Television staff -- will lend support to station technical and fundraising needs.

How can I be involved in the planning process?

The RAC (the management committee) is charged with the primary duties of mapping out the station building process. Membership requires a monthly meeting, with additional work done between meetings. This commitment will grow as we get closer to our 2016 deadline. The Outreach and Tech committees are also in need of regular volunteers to attend meetings and take on tasks as they are identified.

If you are unable to make a large time commitment, please consider attending one of our Community Listening Sessions and provide feedback on what you want from the station there.

Sign up to help build the station on the 99.3FM, WBTV-LP website.

What is the station’s relationship to the PEG stations?

VCAM is the actual license holder of the station and will act as the station’s fiscal agent. Further, VCAM and RETN will provide physical space for the station.

Is this station going to compete with The Radiator or WRUV with programming or for DJs/on-air people?

No! WBTV-LP desires to become part of the chorus of community radio in Burlington by expanding the radio opportunities for what is possible on the air. There are a number of ways the area community radio stations – WRUV, the Radiator, and WWPV, could work together around fundraising and other skill sharing.

We very much aim to be collaborative, not competitive.

Where did the idea for the station come from?

In 2013, the FCC opened (what many suspect will be the last) “window” for nonprofits who wished to apply for a non-commercial low-power FM radio license. With this opportunity approaching (and deadline looming), a handful of community members approached VCAM, RETN and Channel a17/Town Meeting Television, thinking that these community media centers, which each already provided community media opportunities for local residents, would be a good fit for a new community radio station. The staffs and boards of the three sister organizations agreed, and together with a small group of community volunteers, applied for and acquired an LPFM license and construction permit.

The FCC last opened a 'window' for applications for new low-power stations ins 2000; when another window opened in 2013, Burlington's three public education government media stations (or PEGs) jumped at the chance to bring a license to our community. We're excited to expand into web-based services and community radio."

What is low power FM? (borrowed from Prometheus Radio Project)

All over the country there are radio stations pumping out high-powered content with the power of a light bulb (100 watts). Low power FM stations (LPFMs) are a forum for nonprofits, schools, churches, community centers, farmworker organizations, unions, environmentalists, and just about anyone else who wants to amplify their message.

The FCC launched the low power FM service in 2000 after grassroots pressure demanded community control of the airwaves. The service is entirely commercial-free, and licenses were only granted to nonprofit organizations. Low power FM stations can operate at a maximum power of 100 watts, which generally provides coverage within three to five miles.