*A version of this story first appeared in The Budget’s Feb. 22, 2017 Local Edition
By Stacey Carmany
With 24/7 commercial-free music and programming, local nonprofit radio station DNP 102.3 FM has been taking over the airwaves since July 13, 2015, and amassing a large following of loyal listeners along the way.
“It’s amazing how many people are listening,” said Steve Slentz, who serves as a morning D.J. and director of programming for the volunteer-based, low power radio station which is owned and operated by a local nonprofit organization, Dover-New Philadelphia Educational Broadcasting. “We did a survey, and SurveyMonkey reflected huge numbers for us.”
Slentz said he also received a phone call about a year ago from a representative from the Nielson Company. Because the station can’t afford to subscribe to the rating service, Slentz said the caller couldn’t provide any specific numbers, but unofficially informed him that DNR was the area’s new number one station. “He said, ‘Let me put it to you this way – when you guys came on the air, you blew everybody else out of the water,’” Slentz recalled.
With most commercial radio stations running between five and seven minutes of advertisements each break, It’s easy to understand why people might want to tune in to DNR. “When you turn a radio on and you hear five, six, seven minutes of radio, your attention span isn’t that long, so you’ve already flipped stations at that point,” Slentz explained.
In lieu of commercials, Slentz said DNR airs brief underwriter announcements as well as messages from community organizations and nonprofit agencies. In fact, promoting area nonprofit agencies and their events is part of the station’s mission statement.
In addition, DNR also seeks to provide educational opportunities within the local community. The station is run entirely by volunteers, who serve in various capacities both on-air and behind the scenes. Volunteers also assist with public affairs, underwriting, public speaking, engineering, and music. Slentz said the station is always looking for new volunteers. No previous radio experience is necessary, and volunteer opportunities are also open to students under the age of 18 with the consent of a parent or guardian.
Slentz said the station is actually the brainchild of his brother Dan Slentz, who currently serves as the station’s technical advisor. Growing up, Slentz recalled his brother was always tinkering with broken radios and television sets that he had found along the curbside on trash day. He would take them back home and fix them up good as new.
Since high school, Dan Slentz dreamt of one day establishing a nonprofit radio station to serve his hometown of Dover and the local community. It would be two decades later before that dream would finally come to fruition.
Steve Slentz said it actually took five years for the organization to obtain a low power broadcasting license from the Federal Communications Commission. Prior to that, his brother had recruited a board of directors which was headed up by his sister, Jody Brogen. The group applied for nonprofit status in the state of Ohio in 2013, which was granted a year later. The station then filed for 501c3 tax exempt status in 2014, as its directors believed that people would donate more often with a tax write-off incentive and realized that the cost of building the station would be about six percent less without having to pay sales tax on all the equipment.
Meanwhile, Dan Slentz was completing a frequency study and ironing out all the technical requirements so the newly formed station could apply for an LPFM license from the FCC. At the same time, Brogen was working to find a home for the station, which she found in the Gallery of Salons in downtown Dover, a building owned by her hair stylist, Tod Carper.
The FCC granted the station’s license in July of 2014, and then the group set to the task of fundraising to generate the approximately $30,000 that would be needed to build and launch the station.
After finally securing the necessary funds, Dan Slentz reached out to his oldest brother, Jerry Slentz, who owned a construction company in Sarasota, Florida, and asked him to assist with the construction. Under his guidance and expertise, the new station was built in just over a week.
DNP went live on the air at 6 a.m. on July 13, 2015, and has continued to broadcast commercial-free music and programming locally ever since.
Throughout the week, Slentz said DNP plays the greatest hits all day and the best rock all night. On the weekends, it features oldies from the 60s and 70s and airs special programming hosted by volunteer DJs including Dover Middle School teacher Steve Shumaker.
Shumaker hosts a show on Saturday mornings from 9 to 10 a.m. called “Gimme That Shu,” which features area students, primarily those in grades 2-7. Those students join Shumaker in the studio to talk about school, family, friends and what they like to do for fun. They also play games like “Would You Rather?” and weigh in on a variety of topics such as whether cereal would be considered a soup.
“We interview the kids about school and home and what they like to do and things that make them crazy and things that people might not know about them and the special stuff they do,” Shumaker said. “It gives kids a chance to get out and just talk.”
Shumaker said the show is really a lot of fun. “It’s interesting to just get with the kids and hear what they have to say,” he explained. “You never know what they’re going to say. That’s the best part. “
From noon to 1 p.m., the station broadcasts a show called High-Noon Oldies hosted by August Drobney, a 2016 graduate of Dover High School and the recipient of the nonprofit radio station’s first ever volunteer scholarship award. During that hour, Drobney takes calls from listeners and spins classics from the 50s and 60s.
One Sunday every month at 6 p.m., D.J. Larry Karoll examines a different topic in rock & roll history during his hour-long show “The History of Rock.” Previous topics have included hair bands, disco, “The Day the Music Died”, The British Invasion, Motown, and one-hit wonders.
To learn more about the station, its programming and volunteer and underwriting opportunities, visit DNP 102.3 online at dnp1023.wixsite.com/wdpe, call 330-343-1023 or email DNP@outlook.com.
To make a donation, visit DNP online or mail a check to: Dover-New Philadelphia Education Broadcasting, 123 W. Third St. Suite 201, Dover, OH 44622.
Update: WDNP 102.3 LPFM, debuted online January 1, 2018. The live stream can be accessed anytime from any location by visiting the station’s homepage.