WBCR radio raising money for live studio in Great Barrington storefront

GREAT BARRINGTON — No more being homeless. For Berkshire Community Radio, or WBCR-LP 97.7 FM, it's time to go live from Main Street.

Board member and longtime station volunteer Asa Steady Hardcastle said the nonprofit is aiming to raise $5,000 by Jan. 1, and will make a strong plea for regular donations that will allow the station to rent the space where the Hildi B. clothing store has long resided, and which is relocating. A deposit has already been made to hold the storefront.

"If were going to make it, and become part of new radio, we have to have a plan to get onto Main Street," Hardcastle said.

At its annual meeting Tuesday, members and volunteers discussed the station's "reinvention plan" that will give it a downtown presence so it can be more embedded in the community.

With $3,100 to the landlord by Feb. 1, WBCR can move to Main Street and continue its strategy for long-term sustenance at $1,200-per-month rent, which includes some utilities.

The plan also involves hiring an executive director in what has always been a volunteer endeavor, writing a business plan and "emphasizing higher-quality programming."

"And to get into podcasting in a serious way, which is where all radio seems to be going right now," Hardcastle added.

The station's tower, built in 2004, sits atop Fairview Hospital, giving it a radio range of within about 10 miles of it. The station has bounced around over the years since then, with its last physical space in the Granary building off Rosseter Street.

Hardcastle said that while those were the heydays of the station, there was one problem.

"Everyone was excited, we were raising a lot of money, we had lots of members," he said. "And as it turned out, just as it was difficult for the [Berkshire Food] co-op to exist behind town, we didn't have an automatic market — we were basically unseen.

"The net effect was that fewer people knew about us."

Not anymore. Already, there is excitement flying through town and on social media for a downtown presence and the ascent into modern radio. The station already has a "starting portfolio" of 50 homegrown local shows that people are asking to do, ranging from podcasts to the traditional.

"There's plenty of space and we're definitely looking for more," Hardcastle said. But first, he added, "We need help getting settled."

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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