WRIR-LP 97.3 FM is an all volunteer, nonprofit community radio station. It is the largest low power FM station of its kind in the country.
Our volunteers run the station. That includes everyone from the President of the Board to the newest potential member to walk in the front door, including the people behind the mic or the ones keeping the lights on and the broadcast on air. Learn how to become a volunteer.
Since January 1, 2005, WRIR has stood as a symbol against the typical commercial radio programming. We are the voice of the community empowered, a showcase of our Richmond community, its diversity and strength in creativity.
Our FM broadcast range encompasses the Richmond areas including the city and three to seven miles outside the city. We also broadcast online worldwide and through popular services like iHeartRadio and devices like Amazon’s Alexa.
Love what you hear? Consider making a donation
Don’t like what you hear? Consider becoming a volunteer
Why is LPFM Important?
To understand the importance of WRIR, you should understand the role of low power FM stations (LPFM) in the community. Radio has changed. Gone is the diversity, creativity and localism that made a radio station unique to its area. Programming has become more homogenized. Research shows if you look at the playlist for a format (for example, adult contemporary, hard rock) of different radio stations, the stations have all the same songs in their playlist for that format. It doesn’t matter where the radio station is located, listeners will hear the same songs across the country.
More than 80% of Richmond radio stations are not owned by a local entity. LPFM stations return the radio airwaves to the community. LPFM stations have a diverse or niche format created by people in the community; not market research. The FCC issues licenses to non-profits or church organizations. The station operates at 100 watts or less and reaches a radius of three to seven miles. In January 2011, President Obama signed the Local Community Radio Act of 2010. This law allowed for more LPFM stations in the country. Since 2012, the number of LPFM stations in the US has grown. By volunteering at WRIR, you are taking a radical step against mainstream commercial radio.
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WRIR airs underrepresented music, news and views in order to provide a platform for cultural diversity in Richmond. In other words, we play what other stations won’t. We are also a true community radio station. This means we are locally owned and, by charter, can never be bought out by any non-local entity. WRIR also represents the community by its many volunteers. WRIR’s FCC license to operate is held by the nonprofit group, Virginia Center for Public Press (VCPP). VCPP is a 501(c)3 organization that’s funded through contributions from listeners, underwriting sponsorships and grants.
“If you don’t like it then why don’t you start your own radio station?” That question was asked to a group of Richmonders who were frustrated with the programming on Richmond radio. They were determined to create a station that reflected the cultural diversity. But to start a radio station required millions of dollars and a frequency on the FM dial that was not readily available. Thanks to the FCC and Congressional legislation who authorized LPFM stations, obtaining, owning and operating a small radio station was possible. Richmond independent media advocates testified before Congress on the necessity and value of operating community-based radio in more locations across the nation. They were heard and the LPFM movement began. With a LPFM license in hand, the group started a radio station: WRIR-LP 97.3 FM. WRIR first broadcasted on January 1, 2005 with the song “Around the Dial” by the Kinks. WRIR started in a basement and has grown into one of the country’s most successful LPFM stations. The number of volunteers has grown significantly to almost 200 volunteers from all over the community. Learn how to become a volunteer.