Last month, Kids First Inc. received a license from the FCC to establish a community radio station, WITT, at 91.9 on the FM dial. Jim Walsh — one of three board members of Kids First, alongside Stuart Lowry and Patricia Miller — says that this will be the first Indianapolis-area community station in years and expects to be on the air sometime in 2008, with a transmitter and offices based in Zionsville.
NUVO: Tell us about the genesis of the idea and where it is now.
Walsh: It all started when I was doing Small Times on WFYI 94.1 about 15 years ago, doing children’s songs and stories, when I met Stuart Lowry. When WFYI cancelled that show, we formed Kids First Inc., a for-profit group, and started doing shows around town. After we heard about what WFHB Bloomington is doing with community radio, we thought, “Maybe we should give up buying radio time and buy our own radio station.” So, we became a 501c3 nonprofit, which allowed us to apply for a noncommercial educational license. We were granted a construction permit May 30, 2007, which gives us three years to put a radio station up and running. This will be a full-power, class-A station. Most of Indianapolis will be able to get the signal. We’re fortunately in a flat area around here, and there’s not an extreme amount of tall buildings or hills.
NUVO: Why the interest in children’s programming to begin with?
Walsh: I had small kids at the time, and there really wasn’t anything on when you got in the car or at home to listen to for the kids. This was before Radio Disney was on. There was nothing for kids. That’s where I came up with Small Times, and that’s the genesis of this whole thing. Now, WITT FM will have some children’s programming, but during the community hours it will have other things like old folk music — not something you’d find in the children’s bin in the CD store, but certainly appropriate for kids.
NUVO: Where’s the programming going to come from?
Walsh: It’s a community radio station, so it’ll be programmed by volunteers. We can have anywhere from 50 to 100 volunteers at one time involved with the station and anywhere from four to six paid staff members. The bulk of daily programming will be a diverse mix of music. We also want to do public awareness features throughout the day, talking about issues, zoning, environment, nutrition, upcoming events … that sort of thing.
NUVO: How can people get involved?
Walsh: If people want to make donations, they should write the check right now! We’re real close to having a Web site with PayPal, but at this point, they should just contact me here. As far as getting involved with programming, they could contact us now. If anybody wants to talk to us, I’ll ask them to submit a demo and maybe a page or two of what they want to do.
NUVO: What are your long-term goals?
Walsh: To inform, educate, enlighten and entertain, like any public radio station. We want to put on a station that’s the best public station in the state, maybe even including a studio theater with a stage and seats for audience, so we can have live radio, live theater. That’s a dream I’ve had. I want to go outside the box. I don’t want just a radio station with a couple of DJ studios next to each other.