Mission and History
Wave Farm is a non-profit arts organization driven by experimentation with broadcast media and the airwaves. A pioneer of the Transmission Arts genre, Wave Farm programs provide access to transmission technologies and support artists and organizations that engage with media as an art form. Major activities include the Wave Farm Artist Residency Program; Transmission Art Archive; WGXC 90.7-FM: Radio for Open Ears, a creative community radio station based in New York’s Greene and Columbia counties; and the Media Arts Assistance Fund in partnership with NYSCA Electronic Media and Film.
Wave Farm began in March 1997, as a microcasting collective in Brooklyn, NY called free103point9. The group was an active participant in the U.S. microradio movement, an activist and advocacy effort that helped create this country’s low-power FM radio service, which provides a licensing opportunity for small broadcasters operating transmitters of 100 watts or less.
From 1997 to 2004 free103point9 ran a venue for performance and experimental sound in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The “free103point9 Project Space” was home to a lively roster of artists working in noise, free jazz, electronic composition, and other experimental fringe genres. Many of these artists encountered microradio for the first time through free103point9. As a result, a local and international community of artists started to think conceptually about the transmission spectrum as a creative medium, becoming invested in a “hands-on” relationship with the airwaves. free103point9 launched an online radio station in 2001 engaging new and global audiences, and embarked on a series of radio experiments, projects, and performances internationally.
That airwaves are public space and should therefore be accessible by the public, and that airwaves should be available for creative purposes, experimentation, and risk-taking is the ideology that has driven free103point9’s activities since its inception. In 2002-2003 free103point9 incorporated and secured 501(c)3 non-profit status, evolving from an artist collective to an arts organization whose mission is to define and cultivate Transmission Arts.
In 2005, free103point9 expanded activities to Greene County, launching an artist-residency program, outdoor performance series, and installation park on a 29-acre property called Wave Farm. In 2006, free103point9 broke ground on a dedicated facility called the Wave Farm Study Center.
free103point9 submitted an application to the FCC in October 2007 during a rare filing window for full-power non-commercial educational FM radio stations. A year later, on October 17, 2008, free103point9 received a construction permit to build a new FM station. The FM station was planned to serve both sides of the organization's roots: radio art and activism on the airwaves.
In June 2008, a Council of local advisors was established to guide the development of the station with regards to serving Greene and Columbia counties’ local community. Council members provided critical input in naming the station, identifying its guiding values, and getting 90.7-FM off the ground and on the airwaves.
In Fiscal Year 2009, free103point9 became a regrant partner of the New York State Council on the Arts, Electronic Media and Film Program, administering the distribution of grant funds, ranging from $500 to $10,000, to dozens of New York State individual artists and organizations annually.
In September 2010, WGXC partnered with the national radio advocacy organization Prometheus Radio Project to host a first full-power FM barnraising in Hudson, NY. The conference included three days of workshops, presentations, and performances, during which participants collaborated to build WGXC’s Hudson studio and help prepare the station for its FM signal launch.
On February 26, 2011, WGXC went live on air at 90.7-FM. WGXC celebrated this momentous occasion with a live broadcast event, that featured many of the station’s first on-air programmers.
In June 2012, the Wave Farm Study Center opened its doors to the public, reigniting free103point9 programs, such as the Wave Farm Residency Program, the Transmission Arts Archive, and Wave Farm Radio's 24/7 Experimental Sound and Transmission Art channel, currently known as "Standing Wave Radio," that had become somewhat dormant while organizational resources were focused on launching WGXC.
From 2013 to 2015, as part of an organization-wide strategic planning process, free103point9 began using Wave Farm as its organizational name and identity. And in 2016, Wave Farm's WGXC published A Manifesto for Participatory Radio, which articulated the station's key belief system: Hands-on, two-way radio; Creative Use of the Airwaves; and Community.
Wave Farm celebrated its 20th Anniversary year throughout 2017 with a series of special events and live durational broadcasts including, Wave Farm Pirate Radio Reunion Cruise on Classic Harbor Line's Manhattan II yacht, March 7, 2017; Audio Buffet (For Pauline Oliveros), July 22, 2017 at Wave Farm; and Wave Farm 1997-2017: Twenty Performances for Twenty Years, October 21, 2017 at the Fridman Gallery in New York City.
At the end of 2018, Wave Farm adopted a new WGXC station slogan, "Radio for Open Ears," in conjunction with changes to the 90.7-FM program schedule. WGXC's new schedule commits increased daytime listening hours to sound art and experimental music. Local interview programs are brought to the foreground during expanded morning and afternoon drive time programs, and evening programming features live performance from near and far, that are made possible by the Wave Farm Transmit Partner program and Wave Farm Radio App.
In 2019, Wave Farm's Regrant Partnership with NYSCA Electronic Media & Film expanded to include two artist opportunities, five organizational opportunities, and the NY Media Arts Map, all under the umbrella of the Media Arts Assistance Fund. Also in 2019, Wave Farm's Residency Program received the largest number of applications to date, 104 originating from 17 countries and 22 states. A new initiative, The Wave Farm Radio Artist Fellowship launches 2019/2020. A nine-month engagement with an American radio artist, the fellowship's pilot year is made possible, in part, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.