November 4, 2013

Raymond woman keeping late uncle’s radio dream alive

But the future of WJZF in Standish depends largely on whether she raises money and gets other people involved.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

RAYMOND — Kristie Doyle doesn’t exactly wear her passion on her sleeve, but it’s very close.

click image to enlarge

Kristie Doyle runs a community radio station out of her house in Raymond in memory of her late uncle, who produced shows from the chair in which she’s sitting.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Kristie Doyle shows the tattoo she obtained to honor her late uncle Dave Patterson, who founded the WJZF radio station and gave her the nickname “Sunshine.” Doyle has been working to keep the Standish-based station on the air for the past two years.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

On her back below her right shoulder is a large tattoo with the letters WJZF written on a ribbon. The ribbon flows below an old-fashioned microphone and some scattered roses.

WJZF are the call letters for a small, Standish-based radio station that Doyle has been working to keep on the air for the past two years. The station’s creation was the lifelong dream of Doyle’s uncle, Dave Patterson, who died in October 2011 of a brain aneurysm at the age of 64.

Since then, Doyle has been struggling with the various obstacles to running a small, nonprofit radio station with no advertisers. These include navigating government regulations, fundraising, and rounding up volunteers. She kept the station on the air for more than a year by playing one of her uncle’s music and comedy programs over and over, on a loop. Then in May, after more than a year of working to get nonprofit status for the station, she officially relaunched WJZF with a full schedule of music, including smooth jazz, country and oldies.

Now she’s working to make sure the station stays on the air, which depends largely on whether she raises money and gets other people involved.

But Doyle doesn’t see her efforts as merely trying to save a radio station. She’s trying to save her favorite uncle’s dream.

“I had some of the best times of my life hanging out with my uncle,” said Doyle, 38, of Raymond. “And this was his dream.”

Doyle’s “Unka Dave” was the guy who always made her laugh, who brought her to Maine Mariners games and fostered her love of hockey, and who persuaded her to go on the radio with him and have fun. Patterson, who had no children of his own, called Doyle “Sunshine.” It’s a nickname she treasures, using it on her email and having it written into her WJZF tattoo as well.

“She’s a girl who really lost her best friend, her uncle,” said Fred Miller, a longtime Maine radio executive who is now retired and volunteers at WJZF. “She was faced with what to do to honor his memory, and she has really pulled all this together.”

Doyle works for a South Portland accounting firm by day, but on nights and weekends she sits in her den at home, using her uncle’s equipment, digitally programming the music for the station. She gets one- or two-hour blocks of music and talk from a half-dozen or so volunteer DJs who work out of their own homes, and puts those on the air as well.

She does most of the work from her house, since the station has no studio, and she sends the signal out via an antenna at Standish Town Hall. She spends $700 a year on music licensing and is looking at a needed upgrade of equipment that will likely cost more than $1,200. Other than that, she uses her uncle’s equipment and relies on volunteer help.

The signal – heard on the radio dial at 97.1 FM – reaches only a handful of Lakes Region towns, including Standish, Limington, Buxton, Windham and Gorham. But it reaches a much wider audience online, at wjzf.org. Doyle hopes to get more people in the area involved so they can use the station for public affairs and announcements and whatever the community might need.

Doyle hopes more people will embrace the station that her uncle started and look at it as a community asset. She welcomes anyone who wants to get involved and help keep the station on the air.

(Continued on page 2)

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