Sound Waves LPR
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WHOI Sea Grant's Low Power
Radio Project: Sound Waves 1620 AM
Pilot Project Overview
Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Sea Grant Program is conducting
a pilot project to broadcast educational information about the Cape
and Islands to visitors traveling to Martha's Vineyard from the
Authority's ferry in Woods Hole via Low Power Radio (LPR). Because
auto passengers traveling on the frequent ferries to Martha's Vineyard
represent a potentially captive audience with a means for tuning
into AM radio, this low-cost and non-regulated communications tool
offers a unique opportunity to reach a broad audience with relatively
Messages included in the "Sounds Waves" broadcasts will
cover a variety of topics related to the Cape and Islands marine
environment. These include: the marine scientific history and discoveries
of Woods Hole, points of interest along the ferry route, Steamship
Authority vessel statistics and facts, general points of interest
about the region, seasonal information, and recreational opportunities.
In between the informational loops, "Sound Waves" will
broadcast NOAA Weather Radio. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts, in
addition to "breaking up" the broadcast loops, will be
useful to ferry travelers, local boaters, fishermen, and shellfishermen.
WHOI Sea Grant's partners in this pilot project are the Steamship
Authority and Cape
& Islands Community Public Radio (WCAI 90.1 FM, Cape Cod
and Martha's Vineyard and WNAN 91.1 FM, Nantucket).
In addtion, WHOI Sea Grant has worked with many local organizations
to bring "Sound Waves" to the airwaves. These groups include:
the Woods Hole Community Association, U.S. Coast Guard Station Woods
Hole, Woods Hole Business Association, Woods Hole Library, Woods
Hole Historical Collection, the Marine Biological Laboratory, National
Marine Fisheries Sevice (NEFSC), U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole
Research Center, Sea Education Association, and the Falmouth Chamber
Some particulars about our project:
- The LPR unit being used for this project is a Travelers Information
Station, purchased from Information Systems Specialists in Zeeland,
MI, (616) 772-2300. The unit consists of a digital voice recorder
and an AM transmitter system. Additional options purchased for
this project include: 14.3 minutes of message time, remote access/recording,
and a NOAA weather radio receiver. The unit is stored in the cupola
of a WHOI-owned building located approximately 500 yards fromthe
Steamship Authority parking area, well within the 0.5-mile broadcast
range capabilities of the LPR unit.
- Two signs, 24" x 18" in size, have been posted in
the ferry parking/staging areas for autos with reservations. These
signs, alerting vehicle passengers with ferry reservations to
the availability of Cape and Islands information, read: "Sound
Waves: Cape & Islands Info. Tune your radio to 1620 AM,"
were constructed by Locust Street Signs in Falmouth, MA, (508)
- A brochure describing the LPR project is available in the Steamship
Authority's Woods Hole terminal and at local businesses throughout
Woods Hole. Copies are also available from the WHOI Sea Grant
Program, (508) 289-2665 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Target Audience: Ferry Vehicle Passengers
With the high volume of auto traffic that travels on the Steamship
Authority's Woods Hole-Martha's Vineyard ferries each year (375,000
cars and 65,000 trucks), a well-documented potential audience for
this LPR pilot project exists. Ferries run from as early at 5:40
a.m. to as late as 11:45 p.m., although when the occasional guaranteed
standby policy is in effect, boats will run as late as 2:00 a.m.
Autos with reservations spend anywhere from 1 - 6 hours waiting
for their ferry, though the average "staging" time is
approximately 2 hours.
These statistics clearly illustrate the availability of potential
listeners for our LPR project. We anticipate that the listenership
will depend on several factors, including weather, time of day,
length of waiting time, age of passengers, type of passenger (i.e.,
tourist vs. resident), and familiarity with region, among other
According to the Steamship Authority, 70% of auto passengers are
"transients," meaning they visit Martha's Vineyard--via
the ferry--once per year. Twenty percent are classified as passengers
who make "multiple visits" via the ferry each year, and
10% are Vineyard residents. For the most part, messages in our pilot
project will be geared to the transients, although many of the facts
and topics will be of interest to residents and frequent visitors.
We will conduct a survey after the pilot project has been up and
running for a few months. This survey will be conducted in persion
and will query auto passengers about their opinions on the LPR broadcasts.
If you have heard the "Sounds Waves" broadcast and would
like to participate in our survey, please contact the WHOI Sea Grant
office at (508) 289-2665 or e-mail us: email@example.com.