SUN PRAIRIE — Dan Patrick won’t be heard talking sports, nor will Rush Limbaugh pontificate on politics. Ryan Seacrest won’t be counting down the top songs.
That’s not the role of WLSP-FM, a low-power radio station at 103.5 scheduled to go on the air here by the end of July.
Instead, listeners to “The Sun” will get a full dose of what’s happening with the city and school district, local sports and hear the musical tastes of volunteer hosts. Listeners will also need to be within a 2- to 3-mile radius of the water tower next to the city’s aquatic center. That’s where the station’s antenna will be mounted. At 100 watts, the signal will have a limited reach.
The potential for the station is strong, according to organizers, and it comes at a time when similar-size stations are preparing to fire up around the country, including four others in Dane County. At the same time, commercial radio stations have consolidated operations and cut back on local programming.
“We want to buck that trend,” said Jeff Robbins, executive director of the city-owned Sun Prairie Media Center, which for 40 years has operated the city’s cable television access channels. “We want to have radio the way local radio is supposed to be.”
In some cases, WLSP will air simulcast cable access television programming, but most programs will be original and could include talk shows, call-ins and music from a variety of genres. Plans call for the station to operate 24 hours seven days a week.
A fundraiser for the $25,000 initiative is scheduled for Sunday at Sun Prairie High School. A $5,000 transmitter has already been purchased, but another $20,000 is needed to buy equipment for the studio, which will be housed in the media center at the Sun Prairie Public Library. The construction permit from the Federal Communications Commission stipulates that the station must broadcast by July 27.
“It’s to put the power of the medium into the public’s hands,” Robbins said.
Dane County is home to WIDE-FM (99.1) on the Southwest Side, which went on the air in 2008 and WIXL-FM (97.1), which is licensed to Lake City Church, 4909 E. Buckeye Road, and signed on in 2007. Others with plans include the Lussier Community Education Center on the Far West Side, Madison Christian Low Power FM near Monona and the First Unitarian Society of Madison with an antenna in Downtown Madison.
The city of Monona plans to unveil its call letters at a public meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Monona Community Center. Funding for the $100,000 project is primarily coming from cable franchise fees. The studio should be completed by April with the antenna perched atop the hose tower of the fire station at Monona City Hall.