After a nine-month hiatus, Virgin Islanders can once again enjoy National Public Radio, this time on FM 93.1, part of the Virgin Islands Public Broadcasting System, formerly known as WTJX Public Television System. The new NPR station launched Thursday.
Tanya Singh, V.I. PBS chief executive officer, said Thursday she is "beyond excited” to be able to tell people that Diane Rehm and company are back in town.
"This is an exciting time for us and for the enhancement of our community,” she said.
The project has not been a sleigh ride by any means.
WVJN, which formerly broadcast NPR, went off the air in March leaving its audience high and dry. The station was purchased by a Detroit-based broadcaster who caters do a different audience.
Singh said that when WTJX heard of the local station’s demise, she wasted no time in contacting NPR.
WTJX began broadcasting on its own FM station in January, and Singh said it was a perfect fit for NPR programing. She got permission from her board a couple of days after WVJN ceased broadcasting to pursue the project. She said government budget cuts have hindered progress, but a WTJX fund drive helped to a degree. The NPR programming cost about $100,000, mainly for the sophisticated equipment.
"The financing has been difficult,” Singh said.
The infrastructure at the Channel 12 transmitter facility at Mountaintop is up and going, and Diane Rehm and other favorites are back in town.
There is, however, a caveat. She said, "We are asking the public to bear with us right now, as we are doing a ‘soft launch,’ and working out the kinks. We’ve had a few issues with ‘dead air’ between station breaks.”
Singh said big plans related to the station’s new oversight will come soon. The Legislature approved the station’s new name a couple of months ago and it becomes official in December.
"It reflects we are not only a TV station, but radio as well, and soon we will also be able to educate our community on the Internet with TV programs,” Singh said.
She asked the public for support in sustaining the new broadcasting, and for suggestions. She can be contacted at tsingh@WTJX.org