Radio Catskill breaks new ground

By LIAM MAYO
Posted 6/30/21

LIBERTY, NY — Since its founding 30 years ago, WJFF Radio Catskill has operated out of the same two-story house on Lake Jefferson, earning it the title of “the best little radio station …

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Radio Catskill breaks new ground

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LIBERTY, NY — Since its founding 30 years ago, WJFF Radio Catskill has operated out of the same two-story house on Lake Jefferson, earning it the title of “the best little radio station by a dam site.” Now the station is looking toward the future, creating a new studio space in the Town of Liberty. 

WJFF held a groundbreaking ceremony at its new location Monday, June 28. Current and former board members, WJFF staff, Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Sen. Mike Martucci and other members of the WJFF community gathered to lift shovels, unveil a new logo and kick off its public capital campaign. 

Construction has already begun on WJFF’s new home. The building, donated to WJFF by Barbara Martinsons, will house state-of-the-art digital recording equipment and an improved space for community meetings and outreach. 

While the switch in locations means the station can no longer make use of the hydroelectric power from the Lake Jeff Dam, it will give WJFF a direct line-of-sight connection to the radio tower it uses to transmit its broadcasts, improving reliability and sound quality. And WJFF remains committed to sustainability, with plans for solar panels on the roof and for energy-efficient lighting and HVAC. 

The new construction does not come cheap—the project has an estimated cost of half a million dollars. WJFF has raised around $200,000 of that total already, from selling off land at its Liberty and Jeffersonville sites and from generous community donations.

Of the remaining $300,000, WJFF has raised $150,000 from major donors during a private phase of it's capital campaign, "Building A Sound Future." It is seeking the additional $150,000 in supporter contributions through the public phase of the campaign. 

“Our supporters have never let us down,” said WJFF president Thane Peterson. “And they’re not going to let us down at this critical hour.”

Gunther led the fundraising charge, announcing a $150,000 grant from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. This grant, offered in the form of reimbursement for construction costs, is not part of the capital campaign but will help with WJFF's overall spending and provides security in case the fundraising campaign falls short. “WJFF is really important to our community, and important in all of our lives,” she said. 

The importance of WJFF was echoed by Peterson, who promised that the studio would continue to be a resource for the community from its new headquarters. 

“We will reach out to your young people,” he said. “We will engage your minority communities. [And] we will forge alliances with arts organizations across the region.”

For more information on the project, or to donate, visit www.radiocatskill.org.

Edit: This story has been updated as of 7/1 at 2 p.m., clarifying  the funding totals WJFF is seeking from the capital campaign. 

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