WFMU uber-volunteer (and former Brattleboro resident/radio host) Wendy shares some sad news:
On Sunday, April 17th, a six-alarm fire struck one of the largest buildings in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont. The Brooks House, located on the corner of Main and High Streets, contained about 50 apartments, a few offices, at least a dozen storefront businesses, and low-power FM community radio station WVEW (who are now off the air).
WVEW's studios were on the second floor of The Brooks House, and its antenna was on the roof, which had partly collapsed during the fire. The transmitter, terrestrial broadcast equipment, web-streaming and broadcast equipment, studios, meeting space and record library was all housed in that second-floor office. While the fire itself didn't reach WVEW's office, the smoke and water damage has likely rendered every piece of WVEW's property completely useless. Station management won't know the extent of the damage until later today -- the fire department has started allowing residents to enter -- but it's not looking good at all.
For any radio station, this would be devastating. For a small, community-supported radio station, on the air for barely five years, the situation seems nearly impossible. While the station holds semi-regular fund-raisers and receives a small number of local underwriting sponsorships, it's still a struggle to keep a small, new station afloat. And now this.
My connection to WVEW began before there was even a WVEW. As the station's "About Us" page says, WVEW was created to fill the loss of community radio when rfb (radio free brattleboro) was shut down by the Federal Communications Commission. I was one of the founders of rfb, and my first program aired on the first day we "officially" broadcast. I also had a program on WVEW for nearly a year, every Thursday from 6-8pm. If one could say rfb was my baby (a baby of many parents, but still...), then WVEW is my beloved step-child.
With the future of WVEW so questionable right now -- Is every bit of equipment and every CD and LP in the library completely ruined? Can WVEW move back in, and when? Will this break in broadcasting cause the listeners to forget about the station? What kind of insurance coverage is there? -- it's crucial to send the message to WVEW that we support community radio, even when we don't live in that community. How many WFMU listeners listen terrestrially? But you still count yourselves part of the WFMU community, right? Because that's how it is now that WFMU and WVEW can stream online. A community doesn't have to confine itself to geography.
Please consider sending a donation to WVEW, no matter the amount. Don't let WVEW believe a fire can keep them down. They were born of the rubble of an FCC take-down. If they can survive that, they can survive this. And you can help. Thank you.