The Low Power Blues

Regular listeners and supporters of WPFW have noticed something in recent weeks–we can’t hear the station!

And while the loss of the station’s regular strong signal has been obvious to us for weeks, general manager John Hughes seemed to oblivious to the problem at the July Local Station Board Meeting. After several community members and board members asked about the poor reception of the station, Hughes asked, “You can’t hear the station?” And, in response, there was an incredulous shout from the crowd of “No!”

The only thing worse than the station not being fully on the “air”–with neighboring stations on the dial crowding into our 89.3 position–is that Hughes didn’t know it was a problem. Since the meeting, the station has been airing announcements explaining that our broadcast tower, which we share with WAMU, is being treated for lead abatement and that we will being broadcasting at low power from a back-up generator for four to six weeks. No information is offered about when the “four to six weeks” began or will end. Meanwhile, though, many listeners notice that WAMU, which is also impacted by the abatement process, can be heard loud and clear–sometimes at our spot on the dial.

The low power predicament adds only insult to injury for programmers who now must volunteer time to not even be heard. Our radio audience, already alienated and in decline after last year’s unannounced  grid change, is drifting away to other stations. The best way to hear the station is online at


  1. maxfreely

    It is July 31st and I have not heard WPFW for at least two weeks.It has disappeared from being picked up. I have enjoyed WPFW for many years, but I am currently very irritated. I feel that John Hughes should be shot out of a cannon but It also seems as though there should have been a person on the LSB that should have counterbalanced this person. WPFW having yet another fundraising drive and then promptly disappearing from the airwaves after I generously donated yet again, makes me wonder if I can’t “do bad all by myself.”

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