Radio roustabouts converge on Oroville

Tune in next month.

From April 12 to 14, dozens of media-minded folk from all over the West will gather in Oroville for a conference on how to get low-power community radio stations up and running. That same weekend, locals will pull the switch to put conference host Bird Street Media on the air for the first time.

Erv Knorzer, Bird Street’s general manager, who, with a volunteer board of directors, has been working to get the station off the ground for more than a year now, said he’s excited but a little anxious—he wants everything to go perfectly right out of the gate.

Pete Tridish, who was in Butte County last week making preparations, is coming from Philadelphia to lend his expertise to the radio hopefuls as a representative of project sponsor Prometheus Radio Project. “For that weekend, Oroville is going to be the center of the commercial radio universe,” he said.

“Oroville is very much ahead of the pack,” Tridish said. When Bird Street Media goes live on 107.1 FM, it will be only the fourth or fifth low-power station in the nation. The stations have a range of just a few miles; only a few in Chico may be able to pick up the Oroville signal. Knorzer said the station would focus on children’s programming, dramas produced by Bird Cage Theater, plus classical and other genres of often-overlooked music.

Low-power-station proponents are mobilizing all over the United States in the wake of the Federal Communications Commission’s approval in 2000 of a low-power FM radio service. Previously, the FCC had locked out the creation of any new stations.