|PCTV Begins Takeover of WTBR Monday Morning|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
06:38AM / Sunday, June 24, 2018
|The studio at Taconic High School is already half empty as PCTV has slowly been emptying the space.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — WTBR goes silent on Monday, but only temporarily.
The Taconic High School radio station is being taken over by Pittsfield Community Television but will return to the air once a new studio is built and licensure is issued later this year.
That transition begins Monday at 9 a.m., right after a final special send-off episode of "Good Morning, Pittsfield."
"We plan on turning off the transmitter and starting to disassemble the studio, pack the equipment, bring it back to PCTV, store it until such time we can get the room ready at PCTV to start building the studio," PCTV Executive Director Shawn Serre said.
PCTV has reached an agreement to run "The Brave" FM station out of its Federico Drive studio. The School Department has been looking for someone to run it for a number of years and nearly silenced it all together. With the demolition of the current high school, where the tower and studio are located, there was urgency in determing its future.
Earlier this year, PCTV and the School Department reached an agreement.
PCTV is building a new studio and connecting with an existing tower on an Eagle Street building, owned by CT Management.
"There was a pre-existing tower on that building so we plan on utilizing that space. It's not a free lease, it is something we are paying for so there is going to be a cost involved. But it is manageable for the radio station purposes," Serre said.
The tower at Taconic will go with the demolition of the building. Serre said the antennae on Eagle Street is different from what was used at Taconic but will still do the trick.
"For the most part, anyone who can receive WTBR now will receive it when we go back on the air. That was important to us. We didn't want to be losing anything by moving," Serre said.
Next week will be spent packing up the current WTBR studio and moving it to Federico Drive. There, PCTV staffers will do a full assessment of the equipment and order what replacement parts are needed, Serre said. The timing of going back on the air is a little dependent on the availability of contractors, part orders, and permitting.
"Right now the station is licensed to broadcast from 96 Valentine Road so there are special filings we have to do. We have a consultant working with us to do that. I think there are three filings that have to happen," Serre said.
Serre said ideally he'd like to be back on the air at the end of August.
But before it goes, "Good Morning, Pittsfield" is holding an extra long program and inviting those who were involved in both the show and the station's revival over the last decade.
"The last program will be celebrating people who contributed to 'Good Morning, Pittsfield' but also people who were involved in the last era of WTBR," said show producer John Krol.
Those expected to appear to include Doug McNally, Larry Kratka, and Serre, who all played important roles in that small renaissance the station saw in the mid-2000s. Krol added that he'll be inviting Mike Pezzo, who has been a longtime host of a Wednesday night show, and a number of fill-in hosts for "Good Morning, Pittsfield" over the years. He added there may be some appearances from state senators and representatives, some of whom will be making proclamations.
"It'll be a big party," Krol said. "It'll be bittersweet but I'm sure it'll fly right by."
After that Krol is stepping away from the show. He had stopped hosting it for the most part nearly two years ago and passed it on to Dina Guiel and Bill Sturgeon — two others expected to be there on Monday. Guiel and Sturgeon are expected to continue with the show when PCTV puts it back on the air later this year.