Listen up! Charlottesville's airwaves may soon get a big dose of local content with the arrival of a Charlottesville news bureau for Roanoke-based WVTF, which also operates the popular Radio IQ– Central Virginia's radio home for BBC News and NPR talk shows like the Diane Rehm Show.
It's not hard to understand why the stations would be inclined to set up shop here.
"Charlottesville ranks number one for listenership and financial support," says Glenn Gleixner, general manager for both stations, which have already been broadcast in Charlottesville for years.
WVTF(88.5, 89.3) alone has a 7.1 share in the Charlottesville market compared to a 5.5 share in Roanoke says Gleixner. That's not even counting Radio IQ (89.7, 91.5)
"This community has been giving back to us over the years," he adds. "Right now, we can give back to the Charlotesville area."
Gleixner says he's currently looking for studio space around the Downtown Mall, and hopes to find some way to collaborate with another nonprofit, perhaps sharing resources such as a receptionist and office supplies.
He envisions starting with one full time reporter, then expanding. "Ultimately we would like to have a full production studio and control room in which we could produce live programs from Charlottesville," he says.
Several media watchers welcomed the news.
"I think that's great," says Waldo Jaquith, who operates local news blog cvillenews.com. "I always favor more sources of news in Charlottesville."
Sean Tubbs, founder of Charlottesville Podcasting Network, news director for WNRN, and a frequent stringer for WVTF calls the Radio IQ's arrival a "great thing for Charlottesville. It's a sign," he adds, "that they're committed to the community."
So far, says Gleixner, the community has shown it's commitment to the stations as well. One anonymous donor, he says, has offered a matching donation of up to $100,000 to help the stations set up shop.
But if 'VTF and Radio IQ are to benefit from that largesse, they'll need to do some serious additional fundraising. The stations are "not anywhere close to having enough funds to get this thing going," says Gleixner, who estimates start-up costs for the first year alone could be as much as $150,000.
A fundraiser is already scheduled featuring popular talk show host Diane Rehm, who will host a luncheon on
March 5 [oops!] April 4 at Farmington Country Club. Ticket information is offered at www.radioiq.org.
If the funding flows, Gleixner hopes the new office can be set up by fall.
"It could be done sooner than that," he says. "It depends on how support comes together."