OSSINING, N.Y. – For Marc Sophos, community radio has been "a labor of love" since he was just 10 years old. Five years later, as a freshman at Dobbs Ferry High School, he approached administrators with the idea of starting a school-based station called WDFH.
Fast forward 39 years later and WDFH is the only public radio station in the lower Hudson Valley, reaching a potential audience of about 400,000 listeners. It is classified as community radio, which are non-commercial stations owned by independent, non-institutional not-for-profit organizations.
Licensed in Ossining by the Federal Communications Commission as a non-commercial educational FM radio station, WDFH, which is staffed by about 20 volunteers, broadcasts on 90.3 MHz, and can be heard online anywhere in the world.
"We are really in a different category than commercial radio. We deal with issues more than events and we try to explain what they mean," said Sophos, executive director of WDFH, which also has extensive music programming from a collection of more than 15,000 records and CDs, and often features live local musicians.
"To get what we have is a minor miracle," said Sophos, noting that WDFH was only able to reach 10,000 listeners three years ago before a long planned signal expansion was completed. "This is the lower Hudson Valley's station to lose and it will be impossible to get a license for another studio. It we lose it, it's gone forever."
Having depleted most of its cash reserve for the signal expansion, WDFH finds itself in financial straits, and Sophos said without an infusion of funds soon, the station could be silenced.
"There's a short term financial emergency right now. It's urgent. We do need to find this money or else the station will go under," Sophos stressed. "Donations are far less than the operating expenses. We need to be raising $10,000 a month."
If WDFH can raise $100,000, Sophos said it can seek a grant from Public Broadcasting. He is hoping corporations or generous listeners will step forward with financial assistance.
"Money is time and time is running out," he said. "Realistically I think there's hope for the station to survive. We're trying everything we can think of."
Further information about donating or volunteering can be found by visiting the WDFH website or calling (914) 674-0900 ext. 58.