Potential federal cuts will not silence WRVO

"The studio has tan walls with blue and maroon stripes running parallel on them. Next to the door, there is a small table with a framed picture of a sign that reads "On Air." Next to that, there is a book titled "This is NPR: The First Forty Years," a testament to the history of public radio. A cabinet stands directly across from the door with a framed tribute to General Manager William Shigley on top of it. Above that, in bold letters, reads the words "WRVO: FM 90."

"Several of the station’s nearly 20 employees sit at their desk, heads bowed, typing frantically to meet deadline. Outside of the chattering of keyboards and the occasional murmur of voices, everything is quiet. Down the hallway, there are four recording studios; above the doors are "On Air" signs. One is lit. Inside the first studio, Mark Lavonier, host of "Tuned to Yesterday," an old-time radio show, and Fred Vigeant, the program director, go over the program run-down for their next show. Though they are discussing work, their tone is casual, an exchange between friends.

""I’ve wanted to be part of this station since I was a kid," Lavonier said, laughing. "I love the magic of radio."

"WRVO is located in a section of Penfield Library, first went on air in 1969 starting solely with analog transmitters. The station has since grown and has adapted to modern times by using digital and high-definition signals. While older equipment, including VCRs is still available in the station, newer technology has been brought in. There is even a machine that converts old records to digital, according to Michael Ameigh, the station’s general manager.

"A traditional work day at WRVO, for a few of the station’s employees, begins before 5 a.m. There are shows to prepare for, news stories to cover and technology to be operated. Ameigh is in charge of overseeing everything that goes on.

""It’s a pretty busy place everyday," Ameigh said.

"Recent legislation, however, could jeopardize the efficiency of the station. On March 17, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would cut funding to National Public Radio. The bill would prevent stations from using federal grant money to pay for dues and programming.

"Ameigh said that in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, the station received over $200,000 in funding from the federal government. Some of the federal grants have gone toward modifying the transmitters to set up HD signals, while other federal funds cover the costs of accessing signals and fixing technical issues. The majority of the station’s funds, however, come from private donors, Ameigh said. If funding were to be cut, the radio station would still air.

""WRVO will not go dark if federal funding goes away," Ameigh said in a press release. "Should some stations be forced to drop out of the market for national public radio content, the broad variety of high quality programs currently available will be reduced."

"Private funding, however, would have to increase if this bill became law, he said.

"One way the station raises money is through on-air fundraisers. The station hosted a one-day fundraiser two weeks ago. Signs hung on the walls in the studio that read, "Today is the day to donate!" and "Don’t delay, donate today!" Listeners were asked to show their support and make phone donations. The event raised about $300,000 from contributors.

"Ameigh said federal funding accounts for about 12 to 13 percent of the budget.

""That’s not something that if we lost, we couldn’t overcome," he said.

"The bill still has to pass through Congress and, if it makes it through Congress, President Obama, who, according to Ameigh, has said he supports NPR and that he will veto the bill if it makes it that far.

""It’s not clear that that is what’s going to happen," Ameigh said. "So, we’re not going to cry wolf."

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