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WSLR History


WSLR History

In 2000, five non-profit groups filed applications for low power frequency 96.5 during the FCC’s four day window.

In 2003, Bo Bentele and Sarah Kell, acting on behalf of the New College Student Alliance (NCSA) negotiated a settlement agreement with David Beaton, acting on behalf of the Gulf Coast Sanctuary. In this agreement, the Gulf Coast Sanctuary agreed to withdraw their application in exchange for creation of a governing Board that would consist of community members and student representatives. This settlement agreement allowed the NCSA application to prevail.

In February 2004, the NCSA was awarded a construction permit for a low power station.

An interim board was established consisting of community representatives David Beaton, Robert Salzberg, Darlene Sparks, Jason Boehk and Arlene Sweeting and New College representatives Bo Bentele, Sarah Kell, Rebecca Nelson (NCF) and David Bryant (head of Alumni Assn). It was agreed that we would form a new 501c3 organization, WSLR, and that the WSLR board would be the governing board for the station.

The board met for a year and a half establishing bylaws and procedures by which the station would be governed and raising money to get the station on the air. The bylaws approved on 10/20/2004 called for a simple majority of the Board seats to be reserved for New College affiliates – students, alumni, faculty or staff.

WSLR applied for and received 501c3 status in June 2005. Until we were formally recognized as a 501c3, the New College Foundation set up a Radio Fund where people could make tax-deductible contributions to the station.

Bo Bentele formed a Radio Club on campus to generate interest in the station. The relationship of New College Radio Club and the station continued to be discussed. At no time was anyone officially connected with the NCSA on the governing board. The NCSA was approached and did fund several purchases for the New College Studio. These purchases have since been reclaimed for use by student bands.

At the end of July 2005, Prometheus Radio sent three technical people down from Philadelphia to help us get the station on the air. With the help of 20 volunteers, the studio and the transmission site were constructed in one weekend.

In August 2005, WSLR tested their first live broadcast and filed for a license to cover.

From August 2005 – May 2006, we ran two studios – one at New College and one at Royal Palm. Due to technical issues and lack of consistency and New College concerns with community members coming on campus late at night, this studio was shut down and New College students became one with community members in operating out of the same studio. We also eliminated specific slots for New College students in the programming schedule; opening up any slot for them. Because of the elimination of the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mindset, the requirement that a majority of the Board be New College Representatives was also dropped.

October 2009 – The New College student body voted to transfer the station license to WSLR, Inc. An ‘unofficial’ license transfer ceremony was held at New College to complete the paperwork and the application was filed online with the FCC. An agreement was reached between the station and the New College students, whereby students would retain a seat on the WSLR Board and on the programming committee; the station would continue to offer student internships; and the station would remain in geographical proximity to the college. The FCC approved the license transfer in February 2011.

In October 2011 WSLR moved into its new digs at 525 Kumquat Court in downtown Sarasota.

Fogartyville History

Where did the name ‘Fogartyville’ come from?

Many people wonder where the name ‘Fogartyville’ came from. Well here’s the story. Arlene Sweeting used to live on 42ndStreet in Bradenton and walked her dog – a black lab named Ruffian – in the Fogartyville Cemetery every day. One day when she and her partner David Beaton were walking the dog, debating different names for the community coffeehouse they were planning to open, David said, “Why don’t we name it Fogartyville?” Arlene dismissed the idea – thinking it was too much of a mouthful – people would have trouble spelling it and would think it was associated with John Fogerty. Well, David didn’t give up – he did his homework. He discovered some history that convinced Arlene that the name was indeed the right choice.

History of ‘Madam Joe’ Atzeroth

Born in 1807 in Bavaria, Germany, Julia Atzeroth moved with her husband, Joe Atzeroth, and young daughter to Terra Ceia in 1843. First living in a palmetto hut, Julia helped her husband clear their sixty acres with an axe. She became known as “Madam Joe,” because she always called her husband “Mr. Joe.” She split time between her Terra Ceia farm and a beer and cake shop she ran in Tampa (then known as Fort Worth) which was very popular among soldiers. In 1873, after her husband passed away, she moved to Fogartyville (located in West Bradenton) and lived with her daughter Eliza Atzeroth Fogarty. It was here that she grew coffee from seeds – it was the first coffee ever grown in the continental United States. She sent four pounds to the president at the time, Rutherford B. Hayes, for which she received a $10 gold piece. Since they were billing the space as a Community Coffeehouse, Fogartyville seemed to make sense. Fogartyville Cafe opened in 2002 behind McKechnie Field in Bradenton.  The Café started with Barry Huntley running the kitchen turning out a mix of salads, soups and sandwiches, while Beaton booked the musical performances and hosted a weekly open mic night. Sweeting booked Table Talks on Tuesdays along with other educational and political events. Eventually she took over the kitchen and offered only vegetarian food. The Café became a center for progressive activity in Bradenton. In 2007, Beaton and Sweeting moved to Sarasota, closed the Café and began to focus more on developing WSLR.

Fogartyville Reopens in Sarasota

Fogartyville ceased to exist for a while. In 2013, Fogartyville was resurrected as a non-profit community space run by the Peace Education and Action Center (Sweeting was one of the founders of this nonprofit). The Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center shared space with WSLR at 525 Kumquat Court. Fogartyville became the home for most of WSLR’s live concerts and provided needed space to grassroots organizations, hosted collaborative events and trainings, and created a network of support for local organizations working for a more just world. In 2018, to ensure the sustainability of the space, the PEACenter transferred the ownership and operation of Fogartyville to WSLR.