CLAY'S "YAP" RADIO - An Appalachian Voice


Volunteer broadcaster Andy Waddell
reflects on Clay's community radio project

By Bob Weaver

"It has been a grand experiment," said Andy Waddell, about Clay County's community radio station WYAP. The transmitted radio signal from high on Triplett Ridge can be heard in downtown Clay and areas up and down the mighty Elk River.

Waddell is the volunteer general manager, the station is licensed to Clay Communications, a non-profit organization.

"You can pick it up on the ridge tops for miles around," Waddell said, but most listeners tune-in 24/7 on the Internet.

The Internet radio cast started in 2000, following a ten year effort to get the "Voice of the Appalachians" on-the-air.

The station went over-the-air on 101.7 with a 100 watt transmitter, approved as a non-profit community station. "The FCC has required us to cut the power, since the antenna is so high on a mountain," said Waddell.

He said the station would like to increase the power to really cover Clay's 342 square miles, one of the state's most rural areas. The station could seek to get a license for 5,000 watts.

Waddell said the station is possible through the volunteer efforts of senior citizens, high school students, DHHR service workers, offender's programs and many others.

"Our Board of Directors come from all walks of life and our membership is equally diverse and from all regions of the country. Our dream has always been to give the citizenry a voice for change," Waddell said.

"We give about everyone an opportunity to help," a real grass roots effort that delivers different kinds of music on different days. There's lots of chatter and discussion. One day, it's West Virginia only music, but at times the station is automated.

During the summer months, there is live music on the WYAP stage beside the station, featuring regional musicals. There is one big "Summer Fest" every August.

A Calhoun resident, Frank Tobia, does a weekend program called "Freedom Talk."

Waddell said the station does political talk. "Congressman Capito made an appearance, but then her office called back and said they didn't like the line of questioning," he said.

Volunteers take hitches operating the board and delivering programming, but the money comes from public donations.

Waddell said Internet stations like WYAP are likely to be eliminated since the music industry has increased new royalty rates for recorded music.

Weekend Grass - live music on the WYAP stage

"The station currently pays $800 a year for the FM station and $360 a year for the Internet broadcast. The industry charge for Internet plays is increasing 100 fold. Even WV public radio will not be able to afford the charge,"

"The new law puts the industry in complete control of nearly all recorded music," he said, although the issue is being litigated, "In the end, the music you'll hear will be what the corporate giants want you to hear."

Meanwhile, "YAP" radio moves ahead, a beacon of diversity, free speech and music in rural Clay County.

To access WYAP click