Why WPVM is now MAIN-FM

A few of our listeners [at the radio station formerly known as WPVM] called during our holiday fund drive to ask why we've begun to refer the radio station as MAIN-FM rather than by the call letters as we used to, so I thought I'd take a moment to explain.

It has always been MAIN's vision to offer independent news and music over as many local-media channels as possible, including the Internet, public-access TV and our low-power FM-radio station.

We are one community network delivering news and music over multiple media channels.

That's why we have renamed our radio channel MAIN-FM. Likewise, we hope to soon be delivering community video over our MAIN-TV channel, which you will be able to access both online and on the local public-access TV channel. This reflects a fundamental change in the world of digital-media technology, as virtually all forms of media are migrating to a single Internet-delivery platform.

This change, we hope, will eventually clear up any confusion resulting from using primarily the station's call letters. Many people in our community never even realized that the radio station was a part of the Mountain Area Information Network.

This confusion has even led some members of our community to believe that the radio station has a separate budget. It does not. In fact, it has never had a separate budget.

Funding for running the radio station was always supplemented by funds from other parts of the network, which bore administrative, personnel and technical costs since the station's very first day of operation.

So where does the additional money to operate this radio station come from? Most of it comes from your friends and neighbors who use MAIN for their Internet access — or to host their web sites.

That's right, since 2003 when we first went on the air, the radio station has never paid its own way. And that's OK! …

I hope this helps clarify why our radio station is now known as MAIN-FM, and why listeners will occasionally be asked to make a tax-deductible donation to this pioneering effort to offer locally operated media services while creating a more democratic media. …

I'm excited about MAIN-FM's new program schedule and I look forward to meeting many of you as the board works to make the entire MAIN network a powerful force for economic sustainability and participatory democracy.

— Michelle Smith
Board member
Mountain Area Information Network

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16 thoughts on “Why WPVM is now MAIN-FM

  1. Why wasn’t it just called MAIN-FM right out of the box 7 years ago? What will it be called when/if MAIN goes under? Most people know the real reason for the name change… a simple Google search for “WPVM”, or maybe even “WPVM Wally Bowen” will reveal all the clues one needs.

  2. Stephen Kirbach

    Good job Michelle!

    You’ve obviously swallowed and then regurgitated Wally Bowen’s phraseology.

    You’ll get to remain on the MAIN [Wally Bowen handpicked] board.

  3. T. Johnson

    Michelle, I feel compelled to correct a statement you made above: WPVM had a separate budget from its inception until at least 2005, and perhaps beyond (but I departed employment there in 2005). I had myself compiled the organizational budgets as the office manager/bookkeeper there. The sources of funding were varied, with the largest private donations coming to the radio station, especially when it was being built. The MAIN ISP, radio station and wireless project were all tracked separately (as three subdivisions) in fiscal terms (income, expenses, budgets) although the funds did mingle in the same bank accounts. We coded every transaction accordingly and reports could be and were generated with a few software commands which showed the surpluses and deficits of each subdivision.

    I don’t believe that this change is a way to cover the tracks of recent controversy, but do note that the word “progressive” and most traces of progressive politics have faded from mission, public announcements, press releases, etc. Is this because of the pursuit of federal recovery funds? Is this because of new partnerships which require a more nonpartisan approach to community media? It doesn’t really matter.

    Whatever the reasons for it, I appreciate that MAIN/WPVM are trying to move forward, perhaps by taking a step back toward the original identity and mission that so many of us supported. Is that what’s happening? I don’t know. I hope so.

  4. Barry Summers

    Remember when Prince renamed himself (glyph), and people had to start calling him ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Prince’? He spun all these high-minded philosophical theories and creative arguments to justify something so odd, and a lot of us bought it and even admired it. Years later, he admitted it had all been part of his contract dispute with Warner Bros.

    We all know why Wally wants to stop people saying/thinking/hearing “WPVM”, and any plausible-sounding arguments to the contrary are as empty as Prince’s nonsense. Good folks like Michelle Smith will continue to pour energy into Wally’s egomania until they wise up & follow the light back to reality…

  5. T. Johnson

    OOPS! I stand corrected: (from “about” on web site)

    “Welcome to the web site of MAIN-FM 103.5 LP, The Progressive Voice of the Mountains!”

  6. T. Johnson

    I should add some points for clarity:

    • The budgets to which I referred did not address indirect costs, a term that would be typically applied to the division of “overhead” costs for the three divisions. We did not budget, in other words, what percentage of overhead was assigned to each subdivision. The budgets I refer to were related to “direct costs” of income and expenditures as related to each project and its activities.

    • The private donations WPVM raised during my tenure at MAIN were substantial, but did not, to my recollection, cover the entire cost of running the radio station at least at that time. I believe that we all hoped it would eventually become self-sustaining, but I have been away almost 5 years now and do not know if that hope was ever realized.

    During my six years of paid employment there and a few years as volunteer prior to and concurrent to my employment, the radio station was always termed as a subdivision/project of MAIN, not a separate organization. The leadership at MAIN made repeated and ongoing efforts to make clear to the public and volunteer staff that we were all one organization from the start. There was some internal struggle over who could be involved where (intermingling of staff seemed to be discouraged from my point of view) but we were all one organization fiscally, operationally and legally. That was in fact a point of contention to some of us both at the ISP and at the radio station, for differing reasons.

    It’s no secret that I had deep and irreconcilable differences of both personal and professional nature with Wally Bowen and with the board that served at the time of my departure, but as someone who was deeply involved in the organizational and fiscal management of all divisions, I can honestly say that there should have never been any confusion that the subdivisions were all components of one organization.

    Our issues of conflict between subdivisions were not just fiscal, some were ideological and related to what some of us perceived as a shift in mission (the “progressive” mission did have financial costs to the ISP, but they were not calculated to my knowledge). So the ideological differences weren’t conflicted in ideology, but in issues of fiscal management and accountability to which I took exception. So I left.

    I guess what I’m saying is that while MAIN and WPVM have never been without controversy of some kind (and yes, plenty of it on personal and organizational levels), the identity of the radio station as part of a greater whole was made clear to all involved from the beginning. It seemed to become more controversial over time, as the radio station grew stronger and the ISP struggled more for revenues, but I had left the organization and any perceptions after that departure are based on hearsay.

    I still don’t believe it’s accurate for Michelle to claim that there were never separate budgets. What those budgets revealed to us as managers at that time is how much money we needed to raise as an ISP to keep the radio station on a growth track. The three (and then four when IndyLink was born) subdivisions were all represented on the same page of a budget spreadsheet that had one bottom line. That was five years ago.

  7. Barry Summers

    It would be interesting to see what shape this community radio station would be in if Wally hadn’t stepped in & taken over the effort to apply for a low-power license back in 2001.

    There were numerous groups & individuals already preparing an application when Wally convinced them all to put their efforts under the MAIN umbrella. It was later, when the license was awarded to MAIN, that Wally sewed the seeds for much of the animosity that still exists, by making it clear to all who had contributed, that the station was Wally’s and his alone to control. Several people have said that his insistence that the tagline “A Broadcast Service of the Mountain Area Information Network” be a part of the station ID, felt like a real betrayal. The “community” station suddenly became a wholly-owned part of MAIN, and many of the original volunteers left embittered. It’s also no secret to the inner circle of volunteers, staff, and Board that his mistakes led directly to the disastrous frequency and tower location, ensuring that it’s reach will always be a quarter of what it could be.

    Imagine what shape MAIN might be in, if they hadn’t had to deal with the cost, controversy, and distraction that WPVM has been over the years…

    Imagine if Asheville had a genuine, effective, community radio station…

    Imagine if Wally had ever learned to share…

  8. Barry Summers

    I know and like Michelle … sorry to hear that she is involved with Wally. Good luck Michelle!

    Like I said, good people continue to get sucked in. I’m sure Michelle is sincere and believes in MAIN, and believes that she is doing the right thing echoing Wally’s spin. Nothing against her, really.

  9. You can fool some of the people some of the time…you can’t fool all of the people, all of the time. She’ll eventually “get it.”

  10. travelah

    Does anybody actually listen to this radio station? When did individual stations get the ability to arbitrarily change their station call letters?

  11. Barry Summers

    Last time I looked, you can’t change your call letters. It’s still legally called WPVM, and although I don’t listen anymore, I’m sure they are still doing the WPVM legal ID at the top of the hour. This is strictly a local PR operation to try to rehabilitate MAIN/Wally’s image.

    Sort of like AIG changing their name.

  12. Jessica B.

    Does it really make any difference what it’s called when you can’t pick up the signal right in front of the building the studios are in? Somebody didn’t do their research when they applied for the frequency…

  13. Barry Summers

    Somebody didn’t do their research when they applied for the frequency…

    During the brief tenure that the volunteers ran the station, we had access to all sorts of info. Documents showed that Wally was warned very specifically by a professional radio engineer about the frequency early on. He took his normal I-know-better-than-you approach, and the weak-ass signal that WPVM was saddled with was the result.

  14. Isn’t PVM’s 3 watt signal sbout the strength of a christmas light bulb? And then the antenna is situated way outta the downtown area? It’s almost like it’s a station in name only…now why would that be?

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