(Host) Several years ago the Federal Communications Commission invited community groups to apply for low-power radio broadcast licenses on unused FM frequencies.
Thirty-two of the 61 applications from Vermont were filed by the Vermont Agency of Transportation. The idea was to pepper the state with informational radio channels for travelers on Vermont’s interstates. So far V-Trans has won approval to broadcast on 16 frequencies around the state.
Vermont tourism advocates were quick to recognize that the stations could be used for offering more than road condition reports. Dan Grahovac manages the system for the Agency of Transportation.
(Grahovac) “The Legislature saw an opportunity to use the low power FM radio, in that we can provide travel and tourism information around the state as well. So the Legislature provided us some funding.”
(Host) The Agency will use those funds to launch two pilot stations in December. One will be in Williston, the other in Randolph.
Signs on the interstates will direct travelers to tune their radios to different frequencies in different areas. Bruce Hyde is Vermont’s commissioner of Travel and Tourism. He says the stations will do what billboards do in other states. They’ll encourage travelers to leave the interstate for local services and events.
(Hyde) “This would be travel information that would be available on the FM radio dial as you approach various interchanges. It would probably be five or six miles on either side of the interchange. And the hope would be that we would be able to provide information as to what’s available at that exit or neighboring areas to the traveler, whether it’s a 24 hour gas station or an event or an activity.”
(Host) Hyde says Vermont has also pioneered a national five-one-one dial-up service already available through many cell phone carriers. It connects travelers for live foliage reports, ski conditions, directions, or information on the nearest lodgings.