WNMP is on the air in Marlinton
Yes, Marlinton, you can finally listen to Allegheny Mountain Radio without having to sit in your car to hear it. It's long been a complaint by many residents of the town that they couldn't pick up the local community radio station inside their homes and businesses due to interference with the AM signal. With WNMP 88.5FM now on the air, that problem has finally been solved. AMR Chief Engineer Chuck Niday says it's been a long time coming.
"Back when the FCC opened the filing window for non-commercial FM stations, we put in an application for the Hillsboro station WVMR-FM, because we knew we wanted that; it'd been promised since, like, when WVMR went on the air," Niday said. "But due to FCC monkeying around with the rules, it was delayed for like 15 years. 2007 rolled around, we had to reapply, also had interest in a station in Pendleton County, so we put in an application for that. And then somebody said, ﾑOh what the heck, let's throw one in for Marlinton, too, and see what happens,' and doggone if we didn't get it."
Things didn't work out for the Pendleton County transmitter, and that application expired. There were other obstacles to overcome with the Marlinton transmitter, such as competing applications for the same frequencies, Niday said.
"There were negotiations that had to be done because our application conflicted with one's from Virginia Tech Foundation and West Virginia Public Radio, because we were all diving for the same frequencies," he said. So the consultants got their heads together and figured out they could move from one frequency to the next, and worked it out so that everybody could do what they needed to do without interfering with each other and it worked out just fine."
Unlike Radio Hillsboro, there was no grant money for the Marlinton transmitter, Niday said.
"When we got the actual construction permit we decided, well, we didn't get any grant funding for it, so we'll just have to make this a "junk box" station," he said. "Which actually made things easier on me because I didn't have to write a bunch of bid specs and things like that; we could just go out and buy what we wanted. There's a lot of used equipment. We're using a used transmitter up there imported from New Jersey. There's a few new items in there, there's some used stuff from WVMR. All in all, it came together fairly well."
AMR did receive some financial help from the Pocahontas County Commission, the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and donations from local citizens through fundraisers. WMNP is currently operating at only 50 watts, a fraction of the full 1,000 watts allowed under the FCC license.
"That's correct," Niday said, "[I've] still got to wire up the AC service to the transmitter to get it cranked up to its full licensed power. We're just running at 50 watts right now, but it's doing really well - surprisingly well; doing much better than I ever expected it too."
Although primarily meant to serve Marlinton and the surrounding area, listeners have reported being able to pick up the signal as far south as Droop Mountain and up towards the high school and Minnehaha Springs. Niday said he's glad this is the last transmitter he has to get on the air. But he's not finished working on them by a long shot.
"I'm going to have to start working on Radio Durbin next spring, going to have to start rebuilding that," Niday said. "It's been up for 10 years now [and is] starting to show its age."
He said that work will make the signal from the Durbin translator more reliable and more resistant to power failure.
In the meantime, WNMP 88.5 has joined the other Allegheny Mountain Radio stations - WVMR 1370AM, WVMR-FM 91.9, WVLS 89.7, WCHG 107.1 and Radio Durbin 103.5.