Williamsville-based Holy Family Communications, which operates the Catholic radio station WHIC 1460 AM "The Station of the Cross" in Rochester, is hoping new antenna towers in Henrietta will increase the strength and quality of its signal in the Rochester area.
Three 199-foot towers and a new building to house a transmitter are under construction and should be completed by the fall. The land is cleared and construction on the building and towers was started in June.
The Rochester station began its broadcasts on July 1, 2003, from a 1940s-era station on Winton Road in Rochester but has since had to relocate, said William Havas, WHIC’s chief engineer. WHIC now shares a location with a station run by Entercom Communications Corp. and has been searching for a permanent home, Havas said.
“Moving to our own facility means our future is forever in the community,” said Jim Wright, president and cofounder of Holy Family Communications.
That’s why the station began a campaign to raise the approximately $750,000 needed to buy land and build the new radio tower and a building to house its transmitter. The station is still looking to raise another $200,000 toward that amount, station officials said.
One key component of the project has been finding the new site, which is an undeveloped, commercially and industrially zoned plot of land in Henrietta. The project got a boost when the landowner donated 1.5 acres of the land and allowed the station to purchase an additional 7.5 acres, Wright said.
“The people in Rochester have opened up their hearts freely and spiritually to us in a big way,” Havas said, noting that the station’s Rochester office also operates out of donated office space on West Avenue.
One of those supporters, Bob Brown, a parishioner of St. Pius Tenth in Chili who has been part of a team working from the beginning to start up the Rochester station, said he believes the community needs Catholic radio.
"I think that there’s so many different media that are presenting non-Christian, non-Catholic viewpoints on issues, that I think it’s important in strengthening the faith in the local community," said Brown, a former vice president of Monroe Community College.
Wright said due to such local support, Holy Family Communications felt it was important to hire local contractors for the project. Costich Engineering of Rochester engineered the site, and the tower is being built by Fred A. Nudd Corp. of Ontario, Wayne County.
In addition to construction of the tower, the station also has had to seek regulatory approvals from agencies including the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Aviation Administration and the Town of Henrietta.
“We do have all the authorizations in place, and all the licensing in place,” Havas said.
The project does not include increasing the station’s wattage of 5,000 watts in the day and 5,400 watts at night. However, the station is hoping that upgrading to new transmitting equipment and a new antenna will improve its signal strength and clarity, Wright said. However, engineers won’t know for sure until they can run tests on the new antenna and equipment, Havas noted.
“We know that this station is in the hands of God, and we are facilitating it,” Wright remarked.
Holy Family Communications began in 1999 with WLOF 101.7 FM in Buffalo and in 2003 added three AM stations, including the Rochester station, one in Youngstown, Ohio, and one in Scranton, Pa. In 2005 the station debuted its fifth station in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. For those outside the coverage area, the station also broadcasts over the Internet at www.wlof.net.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To support WHIC’s project, mail donations to Holy Family Communications, P.O. Box 25433, Rochester, NY 14625, or call the station at 877/888-6279.