Berryville Students See Dead End Future

Anyone listening to WAMU 88.5, the National Public Radio affiliate serving Northern Virginia, while driving though Berryville has probably noticed a very clear and powerful new radio signal operating at 88.7 on the FM dial. “Yeah, that would be us” said Reid Welliver, co-founder of Dead End Radio, Clarke County’s only local radio station. “I broadcast from an antennae on the roof of my house so the signal can be pretty strong if you’re driving by.”

Reid Welliver

Reid Welliver

Dead End Radio, founded by Welliver and fellow Clarke County High School junior Dylan Kitselman, has just passed its six month anniversary. “We’re really into all kinds of music and this is a way to share that with our community,” Welliver said on a recent “snow day” break from classes at Clarke County High School. Kitselman sees Dead End Radio as his one major achievement so far and hopes that it can be a spring board for musical and artistic development for the community.

Many listeners are pleasantly surprised by the breadth of selections that can be heard on Dead End Radio. On a recent evening the station’s playlist included country/western, jazz, swing and even experimental music, selections from Welliver’s and Kitselman’s personal music library of nearly 2000 tunes.

Dead End Radio operates unmanned 24 hours a day thanks to software automation work by Welliver and Kitselman. “The station has to be able to operate on its own because I’m a full-time student in school all day,” Welliver said. “I’m not a programmer so figuring out how to make everything come together is a continuing challenge.”

For many teens extra cash is often spent on downloading music. But Welliver’s dream was using his extra money to broadcast music. “I bought the transmitter and a wireless box with $200 that I got for my birthday,” Welliver said. “I already had a computer server so we decided to just put all of the music on it. The whole thing has been a real learning experience.” And so Dead End Radio was born.

Dylan Kitselman

Dylan Kitselman

Dead End Radio operates a not-for-profit broadcasting license under an FCC war-time provision allowing community stations to provide programming that furthers the public interest. The station license authorizes Welliver to broadcast “until all American troops are removed from foreign shores.”

Welliver’s drive and ambition are readily apparent as he describes his goals for his station. He thinks that it would be exciting to experiment with new broadcasting locations like high school classrooms and other Clarke County events. “Mr. Novak is a really great teacher and we’re thinking about how we could share some of his lecture materials with the community.” Welliver also plans to add live disc jockeys soon. “I’ve got some college friends that want to get involved who can run the station during the day.” Welliver sees Dead End expanding from its current “all music” format to include other services like agricultural news supplied from the local Future Farmers of America chapter.

But what about station’s interference with NPR? Welliver has plans for solving the station’s bleed-over problem by relocating Dead End’s antennae to a higher radio tower located somewhere else in the county. Moving the antennae will not only reduce local interference, but will potentially reach a wider area for Dead End listeners. Even so, making the hardware changes will require a complex signal relay from Welliver’s home-based server to the remote antennae using a HAM radio frequency. When asked if he knows anything about signal relays Welliver paused for a moment then replied,“Not really but we’ll figure it out.”

Comments

  1. Sounds like the two students have started an ambitious endeavor with Dead End. It’s great to see others who know little about something such as RF or just broadcasting in general try something new to them. There are few people today who will attempt something that has the chance of failing, this is in fact where you learn the most. I applaud the two on their efforts but caution the use of “HAM” radio (I prefer to call it amateur radio).

    As a licensed radio amateur (KB1LQC) and college student and Rochester Institute of Technology who is heavily involved with the amateur radio club K2GXT (www.rit.edu/k2gxt) I would like to point out that you cannot send music over FCC part 97 frequencies (ham radio). Broadcasting on those frequencies are also not legal as they are intended for two-way communication. It may be hard to link your stations but if your broadcasting music you will have to find other ways than the amateur radio bands. Also, if you want some more advice on how to fix your interference problem maybe you should contact some local radio amateurs (local club). They are experienced in this area and may be able to help both of you set up a very good station.

    If you are interested in amateur radio and possibly pursuing it in college with a club on campus please check out http://www.collegearc.com. We are always open to helping students get involved in the hobby and with your interest in radio you may just find it to be an awesome hobby. Good luck with Dead-End radio!

  2. Dead End is a perfect name for this station… Several other pirate radio stations have tried to operate unlicensed under the so called “war time” provision. Most have been shut down and fined. If you want to see legal low power radio stations, I suggest you contact your senators and ask them to support the Local Community Radio Act. See http://www.prometheusradio.org/

  3. Reid Welliver says:

    The most notable station fined for abusing U.S. Code of Federal Regulations title 47 section 73.3542 was, of course, Pirate Cat out of San Francisco. They cursed freely on air, discussed racy topics, and made no attempt to informally apply to the FCC. I think you’ll find that’s true of many of the stations attempting to use title 47. I’ve sent correspondence to the FCC, which they’ve in turn acknowledged, albeit through an automated system (CIMS00002155430). I fully intend to apply for a community radio license once the system is in place, and am an active supporter. As for using the “HAM” band, I appreciate the above input. I was under the impression that there’s a wavelength that larger radio stations use to broadcast from studio to transmission site (obviously not HAM). Presently we use a hardwired TCP/IP link.

  4. [Redacted text] did you even read the article?

    “…Dead End Radio operates a not-for-profit broadcasting license under an FCC war-time provision allowing community stations to provide programming that furthers the public interest. The station license authorizes Welliver to broadcast “until all American troops are removed from foreign shores.”

  5. Despite what the article says, there is no license. [Redacted text]

  6. With the demise of local commercial radio stations, stations like Dead End Radio can be crucial to protecting and furthering the public interest. Indeed, Messrs. Welliver and Kitselman, through their plans to expand programming, provide important community service.

  7. I fail to see how interfering with 88.5 (which actually does further the public interest ) “can be crucial to protecting and furthering the public interest”.

  8. Lindsay Dennis says:

    I’m a very personal friend of these two high school students, and I couldn’t be any prouder. I’ve known Reid for most of my life and we used to live down the street from each other, and I’ve known Kitselman for about three or four years. I hope they keep up the good work, and I so can’t wait to finally get a taste of the station when I move back to VA. 🙂

  9. love the music. hate the location on the dial. yes, i am addicted to npr – especially in the morning. it is no longer possible to listen to either npr station from my house while Dead End is operating. sometimes the wva station is clear but usually both at blocked. Dead End is good fun and nice to know that these guys are clever enough to make this all work, but they would be a whole lot cleverer to operate without closing off the only unbiased news stations available in berryville.

    • Kudos for the students who initiated this project. Still, they need to be good citizens. Each FM channel is allocated +/- 100 kHz of bandwidth which allows for transmission of both the mono and stereo signals with the 38 kHz subcarrier for the L-R difference signal. The fact is that Dead End Radio is spilling over to adjacent FM channels and this should not happen with proper transmitter modulation, harmonic filtering and antenna installation. They should seriously look at their equipment before an FCC Enforcement Letter arrives in their mailbox.
      If their solution is to simply remote the transmitter to a rural location, I suggest they check the political leaning of adjacent property owners to make sure they are not NPR listeners.

  10. Interference issues with NPR affiliates surrounding our frequency should be fixed as of around 8:00 last night. Anyone who still has interference issues should contact me personally at reidwelliver@gmail.com , or via my work phone 1-(540) 947 1334.
    I’d like to thank the community for their patience in this interference issue.