By Helen Harrell
Institutions are contained in buildings and these structures usually have cornerstones as a designation of their beginning. Seems that can also be true of community radio stations as WFHB has a true cornerstone in engineer, historian, original visionary and overall man of all trades Jeffrey Morris. To say that Morris has been instrumental in not only the founding of WFHB but its ongoing existence is merely an understatement. While many folks were around in the beginning (and some still are) and played significant roles in establishing what is now a leader in Southern Indiana Community Radio, Morris has been there from the beginning. Not only did he submit required paperwork, applications, licensing and other government documents and forms to ensure a spot on the radio dial but he also saw to the purchasing, erecting and maintaining of the main signal tower. Acquiring the firehouse location, designing air rooms, purchasing and maintaining equipment all came under his purview. And yes, he had lots of help and support along the way but after speaking with him for an hour or so it’s obvious that his dream for a real community supported and operated, democratically representative radio station has been his motivation regardless of other associations and assistance. It’s prudent to note that Morris was always a volunteer and received little if no compensation for his many years and hours of work to bring WFHB to the reality it is today.
Many years later Morris has become a partially paid employee and while the compensation is hardly comparable to his expertise it is well deserved. As an example, much of the station operating equipment is old and not only can’t be replaced/repaired but parts are no longer available. Just call on Morris and he will find a way to fix it!!! The power is out, the furnace or A/C stops working just call Morris! An electrician by professional trade Morris brings an expertise to the station that would just be impossible to replace even though that thought does not occur to those who understand what’s what with electronics, equipment and dedication.
Even though Morris is older than most of the current volunteers he is comfortable in the digital age and has had little difficulty moving the station in the modern direction of digitization. The only stumbling block is one that has always been an issue and that is enough funding for new equipment and facilities updates. While making do with little is frequently a mantra at the station Morris knows that many updates are needed if WFHB is to continue competing in the local radio market. Some of his wish list items are for appearance and comfort which are valid needs as well as new updated broadcasting equipment. Many community members stepped up in the beginning to launch WFHB including such icons as Herman B Wells, Sarkes Tarzian and the Waldron family. However those resources have long been spent and new funding is needed to purchase items such as a new 98.1 transmitter HD, a new airboard and audioarts IP-12, audio network IO interfaces, 3/rewire cat 5/6 cables and codecs for remote broadcasts for an estimated total of $36,500. Other items on the wish list are cleaning and painting the studio tower and remounting of the Marti antenna, repair, paint gate, new fence and grading and driveway stone at the transmitter building and finish the ‘cage’ (editing room) with wiring, drywall, trim and door. These latter expenses total $11,500. So for a grand total of $47,000 many needed improvements and advancements could be made.
Morris hopes folks will step forward and help with fundraising but in the meantime he will continue to repair and maintain. But one man’s dream has become the reality for so many and that is reason alone to contribute to and support WFHB.