WPHX 101.9 History
The WPHX studio and tower is located on the grounds of the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin. The building was, until recent years, the longtime site of a fire station. On the grounds was a 100 ft. transmitting tower and a small building that served as the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office backup emergency communications center for the south county.
When a new fire station was built and the building envisioned and repurposed as a cultural center for SouthShore, the Firehouse Cultural Center start-up volunteers requested that the tower, scheduled to be removed, be left standing—just in case there were future opportunities.
A window of opportunity did, indeed, open.
In 2013 an act of Congress required that the Federal Communication Commission open a small window to license LPFM Community stations. That application window is now closed. The last previous opening had been ten years prior.
Learning of the possibility of applying for a license—and knowing it could be a long shot—the Firehouse Board of Directors voted to support the engineering feasibility study, and if viable, the application for licensing. Application was submitted at total cost to Firehouse Cultural Center of $3,000. The Firehouse Cultural Center received the ‘construction permit’ for LPFM Station development in the first round of applications under the Art & Culture category. The permit required that the station be broadcasting from the tower within 18 months, by August 20, 2015.
With a usable tower and tiny, but air-conditioned and wired building tagged “The Bunker”, two important parts of the project were in place. The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay’s South Shore Council funded a grant request from Ruskin Community Development Foundation for the start-up equipment for WPHX in the amount of $29,970. One Hundred Women Who Care provided $3,600, and other community businesses and organizations contributed goods and services to transform the bunker into the broadcast studio. With equipment installed and in place, the last piece was the climb up the tower to install the new antennae on the peak of the tower.
WPHX101.9 LPFM—The Phoenix—launched on the air August 17, 2015.