JIM BLEIKAMP talks about his Brunswick-based radio station, WCME, which is now broadcasting on 99.5 FM, in addition to its normal 900 AM band. DARCIE MOORE / THE TIMES RECORD

JIM BLEIKAMP talks about his Brunswick-based radio station, WCME, which is now broadcasting on 99.5 FM, in addition to its normal 900 AM band. DARCIE MOORE / THE TIMES RECORD

BRUNSWICK

A community radio station is broadening its reach, thanks to a federal program aimed at allowing smaller stations greater access to the FM band.

Last month, Brunswick-based WCME — a commercial station whose studio lies in a former mill building — began broadcasting in stereo on 99.5 FM, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Founder Jim Bleikamp said the station will continue to broadcast on 900 AM, and noted that the AM band, which has a broader range than FM, still retains listeners who tune in for news and sports.

“From the time I was a little kid, I was fascinated by these boxes and I’d hear it in cars and there was a lot more home listening at that time,” said Bleikamp, who hosts news and interview programming mornings throughout the week.

His parents had radios around the house and he was fascinated by the voice and sounds that would come in without seeing the people behind the sound. He grew up in the Midwest, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, and he loved how the sportscasters described the games.

“I’ve said, ‘These people are all really having fun. These people are not working,’” he said.

His first week at the University of Iowa, he learned there was a student-run station specializing in rock music and some news, and he signed up.

“That was probably the greatest gift I got in college was learning how to do radio,” he said. “There’s an incredible kind of intimacy there that is just very alluring.”

Prior to coming to Brunswick, Bleikamp covered financial news in New York.

Sitting in the station’s Fort Andross studio last week, Bleikamp emphasized his focus on local content.

“All hours of the day, we have news and weather and we have local information,” he said.

Even commercials are different than those at a big network station. He invites anyone who is passionate about something to come on the show.

“If you have a point of view or if you have a nonprofit that you’re trying to publicize or something, I will help you and I will not put you through the third degree to do it,” he said.

Recently this has included segments with Coastal Humane Society, and a candidate for the Brunswick Town Council.

“I’m very thankful on so many levels that we’ve been welcomed into this community,” he said. “A lot of people understood pretty quickly what I was trying to do and that was very gratifying.”

He described Maine as a very kind place where people remain grounded.

“I have never lived in a more authentic, genuine atmosphere,” he said. “Everyone is pretty much what you see is what you get around here. I love that.”

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: