"107.9 The New W-ELV", Ellenville's very own radio station, just celebrated its second birthday and commemorated the event by dropping the words "new" from its title. But where did the "new" W-ELV come from and where did the "old" W-ELV go? How did W-ELV make a comeback and reclaim its place in every office, restaurant, store and household in Ellenville?
The story first requires a trip back to the mid1960's when W-ELV was first born and began broadcasting live out of Ellenville.
The station started out on the AM dial. The "old" station featured beloved local radio personality Bob Mangels, who currently lives in Buffalo and makes guest appearances in Ellenville's annual Fourth of July Parade. During the 1990s, broadcast giant Clear Channel bought the station's call letters and began broadcasting its own programming through such formats as Thunder Country. While Clear Channel broadcasted other programs outside of the village over Ellenville's airwaves, the letters W-ELV, which have always been synonymous with radio in Ellenville sat unused.
The idea for a truly local radio station began as an extension of the community's public access channel through the Ellenville High School. The channel allowed high school students to broadcast quirky television programs and play their own music during the evening. This served as an outlet and training ground for the school's media program but was generally inaccessible to the community as a daily radio station.
For several years prior to the station's full return Dennis Warner a.k.a. "Dennis in the Morning" and Eric Aiese, the station's radio operations manager, tossed around the idea of restarting a radio station in Ellenville.
As luck would have it, Warner had recently retired from his teaching position in the English department at Ellenville High School when the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) opened a small window of opportunity for radio enthusiasts to apply for radio operations licenses with guidelines, stipulations and plenty of red tape attached. Aiese, who was previously an EHS student involved with the high school media program, was attending Harvard University at the time and cramming for finals when he received the license application from Warner. "Dennis hired an engineer to do a study to figure out what channel would be best to host W-ELV," said Aiese who completed and submitted the application.
After completing the exhaustive application process Warner and Aiese were granted a permit for construction of a radio station in 2003. "It took 18 months to get the station off the ground," recalls Aiese, who had wrapped up his Harvard studies by this time.
The station, which is owned by the Ellenville Central School District, received a great deal of support from the Board of Education, which donated money to equip the fledging radio station. A collection of over 5,000 songs was donated to the station and the is constantly expanding. And since the W-ELV call letters were available, Aiese and Warner scooped them up.
Then, in 2005, the station flipped the ON AIR switch. "WELV began re-broadcasting again in 2005 and hasn't turned the transmitter off yet," said Aiese. Having the Ellenville School as its headquarters provides students with the chance to learn the dynamics of working in a radio station. "The station gives students opportunities to get competitive jobs in radio," said Aiese. "They are learning the basic skills of working in a professional radio station," he said.
Any student at the school has the opportunity to work on one of the many radio programs broadcasted in the station.
Following a consistent format W-ELV is there for listeners' morning, noon and night with a catalogue that boasts "five decades of music." The station's hope is to remain "accessible to everyone," said Aiese.
The station's return was quickly noticed as it earned its first award after one year of operation. In its annual readers survey, Hudson Valley Magazine named W-ELV's "Dennis In The Morning" as the area's Best Radio Personality for 2006. Aiese sees the honor as evidence that "people are listening."
After two successful years on the air W-ELV continues to broadcast, providing a training ground for students and a public service for area residents. As Dennis will remind us every morning, "It's a good time to be in Ellenville and Wawarsing."
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