For almost 25 years, the Columbus-based radio station WWCD CD102.5 has been jamming out on the airwaves as the city’s source of independently owned and operated alternative rock. Now, faced with increasing licensing fees, the station is turning to the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to further fund its ultimate quest for independence.
The crowdfunding campaign was launched on July 6 and is scheduled to go through Sept. 3 at noon. So far, the campaign has raised more than $74,000 of its $1 million goal, contributed by more than 890 people, as of Wednesday night.
CD102.5 was established in August 1990, operating under the frequency 101.1, and has remained a locally owned station since its founding. From the station’s distinctive oval-shaped bumper stickers found stuck to lampposts along High Street to its white ice cream truck known to host visiting performers and grace community parades, CD102.5 has roots that stretch throughout Columbus.
“It is the community involvement that we can get involved with because we are here and we all live here and we all work here and this is what we do,” said Randy Malloy, president, general manager and owner of CD102.5. “So we want to be a part of the community. That is sort of what the ‘old-school’ radio did and what we have continued to do.”
This connection to the city in which its music is played is not something that is necessarily associated with all radio stations anymore, especially as more and more become part of conglomerates, Malloy, who began his career at CD102.5 as an intern, said.
“Unfortunately, what goes on a lot of the time at the corporate stations is that they don’t have local DJs and if they do, they may not be there live or they have a DJ who works for multiple cities,” he said. “So that really one-on-one connection is getting lost in a lot of the radio stations.”
Like all radio stations, CD102.5 is required to possess a broadcasting license from the Federal Communications Commission, the independent United States government agency that regulates radio, television, wire, satellite and cable communications both nationally and internationally.
Currently, CD102.5 spends $20,000 a month to rent the broadcast license for its station, Malloy said. However, this rate is set to increase to $25,000 a month in November. Money raised through the crowdfunding campaign would not only help the station pay these monthly fees, but also help CD102.5 get closer to securing and purchasing its own license, Malloy added.
“What we are trying to do by purchasing a broadcast license is, one, we would remove the uncertainty of us having to renegotiate or lease that license,” he said. “And also, by owning it, that secures our independence so then we are not beholden to someone else. Things happen, but by having our license, we are in control of it. We can have control over our destiny.”
The more money the campaign is able to generate, the better off CD102.5 will be when it comes to negotiating the lease renewal and working toward the ultimate goal of outright purchasing a broadcasting license, Malloy said.
Since its launch nine days ago, the campaign has garnered support on social media from many of the bands whose songs have been featured on the station, including the Foo Fighters, Alt-J and Walk the Moon. Additionally, contributors to the campaign are offered perks featured on the Indiegogo website that range from a $1 “good karma” donation to pricier packages of signed band merchandise and fan experiences (the most expensive perk listed on the station’s Indiegogo website is an $8,000 trip to the 2016 Coachella music festival in Indio, California).
Malloy said he thinks the success of the campaign so far has a lot to do with the fact that CD102.5 is located in a city like Columbus.
“Columbus is a really vibrant community that really gets behind local business,” he said. “I don’t believe that we could make the crowdfunding campaign a success in a lot of other cities. It is really enlightening and it is really nice how the responses have been so positive and the community has responded to the call to action.”