By Craig Hubert | WFMU, the completely independent, listener-supported free form radio station based out of Jersey City, New Jersey, took a massive hit from Hurricane Sandy. The storm knocked out power at the station’s studios, along with their two FM transmitters, making it impossible to broadcast over the airways. To keep things going, DJ’s from the station (who were fortunate enough to have power) began webcasting the morning after the storm, and continued to do so from the station when power finally came back to Jersey City on the night of October 31. Unfortunately, it was only then that the station found out that the outage, combined with subsequent electrical surges, had caused significant damage to much of its equipment, a tragic blow to a station that hangs by a thread most years anyway, supported primarily by long time listeners.
As if things weren’t bad enough, Hurricane Sandy also forced the cancellation of the annual WFMU record fair, which was to be held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan last weekend. The record fair generally brings in over $70,000 for the station but, due to the cancellation, the station having to refund people who bought booths, and not being able to get a rental refund, WFMU is taking a hit of around $150,000, much more than it can possibly afford.
Luckily, one of the FM transmitters came back to life two days ago, and DJs are now broadcasting from the station in a limited capacity. Tom Scharpling, who hosts one of the most popular shows on the station, “The Best Show on WFMU,” was back on the air last night, taking calls via a $9 cell-phone because the station’s phone lines are still down. Scharpling is planning a show in the local area to help raise money for people who still need help due to the damage of Sandy, and, along with other WFMU DJs, is offering special, limited edition items in exchange for pledges. Go to WFMU’s website to make a donation.
Scharpling, over the air last night, explained the seriousness of the situation: “It’s something we need to all do together.”