On Thursday, the broadcast antenna went up. Soon the FM signal will be transmitted throughout the East Side. WEQY is almost on the air.

And a St. Paul radio station that aims to act as a vehicle for community unity will soon be heard in the homes of up to 160,000 residents as they rise to go to work. The station, which will call 104.7 home on the FM dial, is a project of the Dayton’s Bluff Community Council and will become fully operational after a brief testing phase.

Its studio space is located at 790 E. 7th St.

Its programming will reflect an East Side that has been transformed over the past few decades by an influx of immigrants — from Southeast Asian, to Latino, to Somali and other east African people.

The station’s “vision statement” envisions “a socially, economically, and politically powerful East Side by capitalizing on its rich immigrant history and diverse communities. WEQY will serve the East Side as a community anchor, connecting and sparking dialogue across cultures and generations, educating the public, and broadcasting the voices of the East Side.”

The project began two years ago with the help of the national Prometheus Radio Project based in Philadelphia and many volunteers, thanks to the Federal Communications Commission allowing local nonprofit and educational organizations to apply for a limited number of low-power FM radio licenses.

The radio station will be a focal point of the 7th Street Live community festival that kicks off Friday at 5 p.m. Along with having a WEQY booth, volunteers will circulate through the crowd, recording “East Side Minutes” for the station. The studio also will be open for tours during the festival. More than 2,000 people are expected to attend the four-hour event — giving WEQY a good start on attracting listeners.

Three other Minnesota low-power radio stations have been granted licenses in Minnesota — Park Public Radio in St. Louis Park, the People’s Press Project in Fargo-Moorhead and Two Harbors Community Radio on the North Shore.

 

jim.walsh@startribune.com