Community Radio WRFI
88.1 FM Ithaca, 91.9 FM Watkins Glen

A History of WRFI

WRFI Community Radio for Ithaca and Watkins Glen started in 2002 as Ithaca Community Radio (often referred to as ICR), when a founding board member re-mortgaged her home to obtain the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license for 88.1 FM in Ithaca.

The frequency was for a translator (a re-broadcasting station) -- not a primary license, so we were not yet able to broadcast our own signal.

The next five years were spent re-broadcasting WEOS from Geneva, while volunteers worked with engineers and legal counsel to prepare an application to the FCC for a primary station license.

In 2007, the FCC opened an application window for broadcast licenses and we were finally able to submit our application. There were over 3600 other applications from around the country, and we were fortunate to be granted two of the few hundred licenses for primary stations, for WRFI in Watkins Glen and WINO in Odessa.

We had a three-year time limit to construct, test and bring these primary stations to operation, so our volunteers began work on conducting field engineering studies, building broadcast and transmission facilities, and establishing a broadcast studio.

During this period, we also established a partnership with Binghamton's WSKG, to bring programs like Capital Pressroom and Free Speech Radio News to Ithaca, re-broadcasting their HD station, WSQX.

In June of 2012, we had finished construction of our Clinton House broadcast studio in downtown Ithaca and finally went on the air as a community owned and operated station whose programming serves our community in Tompkins and Schuyler counties.

Now that we had our own primary license, we rebranded as WRFI Community Radio for Ithaca and Watkins Glen, and held our first-ever community radio fundraising marathon in December 2012, raising almost $10,000 in one week and introducing many community members and organizations to both our broadcast studio and our listening audience, by bringing them on the air as guests and hosts.

Since then, we've been busy expanding our local programming, training dozens of volunteers, developing effective and sustainable operations for the station, improving our signal quality and stability, and are even streaming on the web now!

WRFI Community Radio is a work in progress, and is run by volunteers. Contact us to become part of our continuing story!

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