A BRIEF HISTORY OF WDOA RADIO
A BRIEF HISTORY OF WDOA RADIO
WDOA first began broadcasting over the air on 89.3FM to the Worcester, Massachusetts area in January of 1996. At first just a couple of nights a week, but within a month broadcasting free form programming seven nights a week. WDOA was formed to fill a niche in programming that was being ignored by the existing radio outlets in the area. Several of WDOA's announcers had previously pulled shifts on local public radio station WICN. Unfortunately, WICN had recently decided that the "public" only included fans of mainstream jazz and classical musics and summarily fired the entire rock department along with all of the ethnic programmers on the station. A little further down Main St. in Worcester, the situation wasn't much better at "Community Radio" WCUW, where although the station had a variety of programming the station remained bogged down in a quagmire of incompetence and apathy. The only over the air college radio station in town WCHC maintained a "alternative" structured format and only broadcast 8 months a year. They also refused to incorporate any people from outside The College of The Holy Cross in the operation of the station. Into this void came WDOA, at first barely putting out enough of a signal to reach downtown, but by the summer of 1997 with the installation of new equipment, covering Worcester and most of the adjoining towns. While WDOA was becoming increasingly popular, across the country hundreds of small unlicensed stations like WDOA were springing up. At first the Federal Communications Commission didn't pay much attention to these stations unless they were causing interference, but under increasing pressure from the National Association of Broadcasters (the lobbying arm of commercial broadcasting), the FCC started to take action. The New England District office began to swing into action just before Halloween 1997 when on Tuesday October 28 two field agents shut down Radio Free Allston which was broadcasting to the Boston area. The next night the same two agents visited WDOA and ordered us to cease broadcasting. On Thursday October 29, 1997 the head of the New England District office spoke to a Boston meeting of the Society of Broadcast Engineers where he spoke at length about unlicensed broadcasting and of the FCC's newfound priorities in shutting down unlicensed operations.
Update April 2001:
The FCC in 2000 approved a procedure to allow licensing Low Power FM radio stations. Unfortunately under the new rules the FM band around most metropolitan areas is too crowded to allow any new stations. Furthermore the Bush led FCC may even reverse the meager low power offerings that have been given. In any case the FM band around Worcester is too crowded to support any officially licensed station.
Update July 2001:
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, the WDOA transmission antennae was taken down off the roof of the building where our studios are. The transmitter that powered the antennae has been silent for several years. The pole that held our transmission antennae was in dubious shape. The pole had been on the roof for some 30 years and we figured it was safest to have to remove it. Below are a couple pictures of the not so ceremonious end to our transmission tower.
Update January 2008
During the summer of 2007 we made the decision that to continue streaming could put our home and savings at risk. We were licensed by the music publishing groups ASCAP and BMI which covers the copyright of the authors of the music, but not the performance copyright which is controlled by the RIAA (even for those artists not signed to a major label!). The US copyright laws make it impossible to get fully legal performance rights for a small organization such as WDOA as there were no provisions made for what basically amounted to a hobby operation to be able to operate at a reasonable cost within confines of the current laws. We urge people to not support any of the major labels. They are a cancer on music and deserve to go the way of the Victorola as soon as possible.
In January of 2004 WDOA moved out of the Worcester apartment and down the road to a house in Spencer, MA. We no longer have to worry about neighbors stomping their feet from above everytime we turned the speakers over a whisper ;-)