Photo Courtesy of Troon Radio
Troon Radio's chief engineer, Zane Holstock
Starting this Saturday at noon, Troon Radio will begin broadcasting out of Durham at Troonradio.com
. The brainchild of Bob Donaghey, the station is focused around “the lively arts,” and the plan is to emphasize Durham’s talent pool through live performances collected from the city’s venues.
Donaghey, who named the station after his north Durham address on Troon Lane, has gotten a great response so far.
“The clubs that we’ve spoken to are wild about the idea," he says, mentioning The Blue Note Grill
and The Shed
. "Just coming in, setting up mics, paying their union fees, and going at it with the music so that people who can’t make it to the clubs downtown, we can broadcast [for] them.”
Donaghey has been working on the project for more than a year, steadily bringing more people aboard. He says Durham fits squarely into the equation.
“Chapel Hill and Hillsborough both have wonderful low-power FM stations,” he says. “They work very well, but they are very limited in their scope. Other than their streams, which are really their second program area of concern, it’s not possible to hear their live programming and creative programming outside of a very small area.”
If anything, it’s streaming that gave Donaghey the impetus to start Troon Radio at all.
“Streaming has been a way for artists to get their music heard. You know Durham—and Hillsborough and Chapel Hill—there must be an artist behind every tree. I just feel, even though a lot of people are being heard in the clubs, you just can’t make it down to them every night, and you can’t make it to all of them," he says. "We can tape the shows and broadcast them on alternate nights or later the same night."
Troon will operate 24–7, which means the station will have to rely on imported content from different sources. The offerings will be diverse, ranging from classic Metropolitan Opera concerts to music from Indian reservations. The news portions will come from UN Radio
and Voice of America,
emphasizing world news despite being a local station. The project is a many-limbed beast, and Donaghey admits it will be a learning process as the pieces all come together.
“It’ll be heavy on music at first,” he says, “and, as time goes by, heavier on local
music as we’re able to obtain it.”
More than just about anything, Donaghey is excited about the station’s app, which will be available about two weeks after Troon begins broadcasting. Besides enabling the station to broadcast to an international audience, the app features “enough bells and whistles to drive you crazy,” including “a streaming high-frequency tone [inaudible to humans] that repels mosquitoes. It’s so neat.”
Unfettered by commercial interests and with its own agenda, the station aims to be an authentic voice from and of the city. Donaghey is happy to answer to no one but himself and his community.
“Being a lively arts station is just saying it’s going to be lighthearted; we’re gonna focus on fun and entertainment. We are a public broadcasting station, independent. We don’t have to listen to what a university tells us to do or anything like that," he says. "It’s a chance to let the community know what’s going on, and get your two cents in there along the way.”