WDRT Viroqua, WI
WDRT (91.9 FM "Driftless Community Radio") is a radio station that broadcasts a community radio format. Licensed to Viroqua, Wisconsin, it serves the Driftless Region. It first began broadcasting in 2010. The station is currently owned by Driftless Community Radio Inc.
City of license: Viroqua, WI
Broadcast area: Driftless Region
Slogan: Community radio from the ground up!
Frequency: 91.9 MHz
First air date: September 17, 2010
HAAT: 435 ft.
Transmitter coordinates: 43°36′28″N90°53′24″W
Callsign meaning: driftless, dirt, grounded
Affiliations: NFCB, Pacifica Radio
Owner: Driftless Community Radio, Inc.
History of the Station
During the winter of 2003 the Valley Stewardship Network (VSN) sponsored a series of town-hall meetings (“Kickapoo Conversations”) to raise awareness of issues regarding the environmental condition and quality of life in the Kickapoo Valley. Some of those present wondered how best to spread the word about these issues. Soon afterward a small group formed to pursue the idea of a community radio station. They incorporated as a non-profit entity, Driftless Community Radio (DCR), and established a board of directors in March of 2003.
After a series of fundraising and awareness-raising events, DCR acquired audio and computer equipment. It rented space in Viroqua's Landmark Center and began streaming as a community radio station at www.radiodriftless.org in June 2005. The Internet station operated continuously until August 2009, when the resources of the Driftless Community Radio Board and volunteers became dedicated solely to bringing the broadcast station to the airwaves.
In October 2007, DCR applied for a full-power FCC broadcast license to operate an NCE station at 91.9FM. In March 2009 the FCC awarded DCR a full-power FM license to broadcast at 480 watts on the 91.9FM frequency. The board selected the call letters “WDRT” to stand for “Driftless” and to acknowledge our community's strong ties to the land. In September 2009 DCR began leasing a 1400-square foot space on Viroqua's Main Street for its studios. That same month DCR raised its first $91,900 from local donors only a week after announcing that goal.
The board of directors spent the next months conducting strategic and business planning, recruiting more volunteers, raising awareness among individuals and businesses in the community, establishing an advisory board, advancing fundraising efforts, and preparing for studio construction and volunteer programmer training.
On September 17, 2010, WDRT 91.9FM aired its first broadcast. The voices of dozens of local, volunteer DJs filled the airwaves. Community support was resounding from the start. On its first day of broadcasting WDRT had over 100 members, and that number tripled in the next three months. In 2010, individuals donated $45,000 in small contributions and one individual donated $150,000 to allow the station to purchase the building it had been leasing on Viroqua’s Main Street.
Building WDRT has truly been a collaborative, community effort. Studio construction, programming, operations, marketing, and fundraising were accomplished and managed entirely by volunteers until January 2011. The station continues to depend primarily on volunteers, with a few, key part-time paid positions ensuring continuity and progress.
WDRT’s programming is designed to meet local needs. WDRT values and relies on listener input to help guide our programming. Through surveys and community listening sessions our audience has told us it wants local news, local weather, shows that discuss issues specific to our regions, and a wide variety of music—all of which other area stations fall short of providing.
WDRT is a member of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB). It has also established relationships with the Pacifica Foundation, Prometheus Radio Project, and several other community radio stations. In particular, WDRT enjoys close ties with WORT in Madison, Wisconsin and WTIP in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Staff and volunteers at these stations have graciously shared insights, plans, and advice that have helped to build WDRT.
Locally, Driftless Community Radio (DCR) is a member of Viroqua Partners (the Viroqua area Chamber of Commerce) and the Vernon Economic Development Association (VEDA).
Nautel VS1 Transmitter
Audio Arts R55e
Numark Stealth Midi Control
Peavey PV-10 USB mixer
WDRT has made a commitment to the exclusive use of open source software, with a preference for Free (as in freedom) software.
Staff & Key Volunteers
Business Development Coordinator - Toril Fisher
Programming Coordinator - James Hallberg
Operations Coordinator - David Klann
Membership/Volunteer Coordinator - Terry O'Connor
WDRT uses a collective, non-hierarchical management structure that was created through a mind mapping exercise, conducted by one of our board members.