GORHAM – The University of Southern Maine radio station WMPG has recently upped its power and broadcast range, increasing its listenership area.

The station has shifted its tower from the roof of Bailey Hall on the university’s Gorham campus to a 500-foot tower atop Blackstrap Hill in Westbrook. Power will be bolstered from 1,100 watts to 4,500 watts following a 50 percent of full power test period.

“The student volunteers are wired,” Judie O’Malley, university spokeswoman, said Tuesday after visiting the station studios on the Portland campus.

The station broadcasts at 90.9 and 104.1 FM.

O’Malley said the station’s upgrade cost more than $200,000 raised through fundraising and a federal grant from Public Telecommunications Facilities Program.

“We got one of the last grants before it was phased out by Congress,” O’Malley said.

WMPG received a construction permit from the Federal Communications Commission in 2008 to relocate its transmitter and tower. WMPG began broadcasting its upgraded signal on Dec. 14.

The station can now be heard can be heard in southern Maine from the Kittery area to Lewiston-Auburn, where the university has a campus, and west to the mountains of New Hampshire. The number of potential listeners in the station’s range jumps up to 185,000 from 35,000.

New listeners are calling WMPG on a dedicated phone line at 874-3000 to report hearing its programming for the first time. The station has grown from its beginnings in a dormitory as a student project in 1973.

The station has three paid employees, including station manager Jim Rand, a university alumnus. Others, including disc jockeys, are volunteers, O’Malley said.

To celebrate its upgrade, WMPG is hosting an open house on Saturday, Jan. 21, at its studios at 92 Bedford St., in Portland.

For more information, visit wmpg.org or call 780-4424.

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