Local Listeners Give Ossining Radio Station Boost

OSSINING, N.Y. – The only public radio station in the lower Hudson Valley just got a major boost from a few Katonah and Ossining listeners.  

WDFH, which is licensed in Ossining and reaches a potential audience of about 400,000 listeners, has been on the brink of closing but two major donations have breathed new life into the station. Officials said the station recently received a pledged donation of $10,000 from Douglas Durst of The Durst Organization, who listens to the station from his Katonah home. The pledge comes at the condition that the station raise the other $10,000 it needs from other listeners. Durst’s donation inspired Ossining residents Chuck and Gina Bell, who recently made a gift to the station of $2,500.

“These donations are a huge boost of confidence for us and an affirmation of what we’re doing,” said Marc Sophos, executive director and founder of WDFH. “With the Bells’ donation, we are now halfway toward that $10,000 match. And that’s just from regular listener support and before we’ve really made a push to ask the community for support. So it really does mean that people do support what we’re doing.”

WDFH is classified as community radio, a non-commercial station owned by independent, non-institutional not-for-profit organization. The station is staffed by about 20 volunteers, broadcasts on 90.3 MHz and can be heard online anywhere in the world.

While it has been around nearly 40 years, garnering support for the station is difficult, Sophos said, because the station has only recently had the two pillars of radio necessary to carry an audience.

“For a long time we had the programming but we didn’t have the signal to reach an audience,” he said. “Then we had a signal but didn’t have enough programming. So even though we’ve been around awhile, a lot of people don’t know about us.”

Sophos said there are other community radio stations that Westchester residents can pick up, but he said no other station offers local programming like WDFH.

“None of those stations that have signals covering our area really cover our area in terms of program content,” he said. “In the suburbs we have all of these stations from the city so you’d think we’d be an extremely well served area except the stations in the city are serving the needs of the city.”

Sophos and dozens with WDFH are pushing for more support and they estimate the group might need $120,000 to keep its broadcasting license. The situation is growing dire, he said, as the group has already put the license on the market.

“That is reversible at this point but it might not be for longer,” Sophos said. “What we need right now is for the community to step forward – and step forward in a big way. If people want local, Westchester programming, they’re going to need to step forward and let us know.” 

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