Steamboat’s classical music station back up after mystery mishap
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Fans of the Yampa Valley’s classical music station are happy to hear the sounds of Bach, Bartok and Beethoven, once again, after their signal went out on Mount Werner for about a month. From mid-October to mid-November, listeners were not able to pick up any signal from the radio station at 91.1 WSFM.
WSFM’s Board of Director President Suzie Leeson said the radio station’s antenna was likely damaged by a repair crew working on someone else’s equipment on Storm Peak.
“We had this outage take place just after a big repair in September that we had paid for with the help of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and others,” said Leeson. “But with community help, we got crews back up there, and we didn’t get charged, again.”
That’s great news for the radio station that brings classical music to the valley. The nonprofit radio station is the only classical music station for Colorado’s western slope.
Fortunately, WSFM’s mother station in Trenton, New Jersey, WWFM, donated the extra parts needed to fix the antenna.
Their go-to repairman, Norm Alexander of NC Technical Services, donated the time and crew needed to get the repairs done while Steamboat Resort grounds crew helped get them through an early snowfall with a snowcat.
WSFM, which stands for Western Slope FM, has been the ultimate little engine that could.
First started in the ’70’s after two local women, Ann Rich and Jan Vail, pushed and prodded classical fans to help them buy radio equipment to put on Emerald mountain, WSFM found its permanent home at 91.1 on the FM dial. The station, eventually, got enough support to get an antenna on Storm Peak, a higher elevation that allowed better reception.
Leeson said their next big goal is to buy a more advanced omnidirectional antenna.
Fellow board member Chrystel Houston, who is a voice and music teacher, encourages parents to keep 91.1 on in their cars while driving their children around.
As she likes to say, “You have a captive audience — Bach is in the passenger seat, and Beethoven is riding shotgun.”
While WWFM in New Jersey broadcasts mostly to an East Coast audience, the little enclave of Steamboat Springs is given exposure there as well since WSFM piggybacks off their signal.
“They give weather reports for their area and throw in Steamboat Springs weather, so we get nationally recognized,” Leeson said, laughing.
Steamboat also gets national exposure when WWFM broadcasts music that is live or recorded from the Strings Music Festival in town.
So, stay tuned for future broadcasts from Steamboat. In the meantime, to learn more about WSFM and its music schedule, visit westslopefm.org.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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