The WDIY radio station is located in Bethlehem. The station recently increased its power to reach more listeners in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. (Madison Peterson-Porta/B&W Staff)

WDIY radio station expands its broadcasting power, listener base


In early December, WDIY, Lehigh Valley’s community NPR radio station on 88.1 FM, increased its power in an effort to expand its listener base.

With this increase, the station now reaches people farther throughout the Lehigh Valley, where before, the station was in need of a translator in order to translate the signal farther out east and west. According to the station’s website, broadcast power reaches eastward to Phillipsburg, New Jersey and westward to Breinigsville, as well as Moorestown toward the north and Coopersburg toward the south.

Due to this increased broadcasting range, there is better widespread service and a greater ability to reach listeners with their pledge drives — the latest of which takes place this April.

“When you have a power increase like we did, it is a big deal,” said Wagner Previato, the station’s executive director. “But it takes a while to see changes. What we want to see is more people listening.”

Previato is one of five full-time staff members at the station, along with one part-time employee and nearly 100 volunteers. Each member of the small staff is expected to step outside of his or her job title and contribute to the organization’s overall well-being.

Shamus McGroggan, the station’s membership and development manager, handles the membership for the station and plays a supportive role in dealing with grants. However, his job includes more than just these responsibilities — he also manages the station’s website, social media platforms and even has his own shows on air. He said he spends a lot of his airtime pitching pledge drives to raise money for the station.

“We all need to pitch in on the air,” Previato said.

A wider listener base enables the station to reach more people with its pledge drive initiatives, which result in greater funding. Since WDIY is a public broadcasting station, it is nonprofit and heavily relies on donations to stay on the air, pay bills and grow. Money is raised for the station through donations, which can be received in three forms: through increased membership, underwriting and grants.

With WDIY’s spring pledge drive in early April, the station hopes to expand membership throughout its listeners and to renew previous memberships in order to raise funds. The station is expecting a higher donation rate due to the power expansion.

“On-air pledge drives are the most direct way that we can go to our listener base and membership base, and get them to support the station,” McGroggan said.

Alison DelRe, the station’s community relations coordinator and manager, said a lot of time and effort goes into this pledge drive from all employees and volunteers at the station. DeIRe works directly with the volunteers.

“I schedule volunteers to answer the phones and manage Pledge Central,” DelRe wrote in an email. “Our conference-room-turned-call-center, managing the incoming calls and data making sure the on-air studio has what they need.”

This pledge drive starts at 5:30 a.m. and runs throughout programming until 9 p.m. in order to gain maximum support.

The power expansion allows WDIY to reach out and serve the Lehigh Valley to the best of their capability, Previato said.

“The main goal of our station is to serve the population of the Lehigh Valley and we’ve been doing that for the past 21 years,” he said.

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