Everyone knows that some of the best music can be heard on public radio, and now there’s no need to try to catch one of those behemoth signals from New York City. Why not? Because we’ve got our own public station.
WDFH-FM 90.3 broadcasts commercial-free community programming, plus blues, jazz, rock, and folk culled from a 15,000 CD/album library. The one problem: not many residents know the station exists.
“Only since January 2011 have we had both a viable signal and a studio,” says Dobbs Ferry native Marc Sophos, 53, WDFH’s executive director, program director, and chief engineer. “The difficulty has been building a public constituency without both.”
The station’s signal, via a 165-foot antenna atop a 630-foot hill in Mount Pleasant, can reach about 400,000 potential listeners in Central and Northern Westchester County as well as in eastern Rockland County, southern Putnam County, and a small part of western Connecticut.
Radio has been a lifelong passion for Sophos, who received an AM transmitter for Christmas in 1968 when he was 10, which helped spark his fascination with the technology. “By nine, I understood basic electrical circuitry, and, by twelve, I was building audio mixers,” says Sophos, a classically trained pianist who studied telecommunication at Michigan State University and received a law degree from Pace.
Sophos’s dream of founding a Westchester community station began when he was 14. There have been many starts and stops (in 1982, for example, he convinced a local cable company to carry WDFH’s signal as background audio for some of the system’s bulletin-board channels; in 1993, because of FCC interaction, he transitioned the station to FM), culminating in a grand re-opening on March 12, 2011.
Sophos is the founder and chairman of Hudson Valley Community Radio, Inc., the nonprofit corporation that owns and operates WDFH. Unfortunately, he says, “nonprofit doesn’t mean we don’t need money. We need to find program underwriting from local businesses.”