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WTHU has same name, new sound

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(2/21) The sounds of summer will be a bit different this year as WTHU comes under new management.

According to Chuck Walmer, owner of WTHU Radio in Thurmont, he has entered into a sales agreement with the Christian Radio Coalition to sell the station as of Feb. 15. Because the Federal Communications Commission needs to approve the sale, it is not expected to be finalized until June.

“I have had other offers for the station, but I liked the package they came in with,” Walmer said. “They are going to continue with a lot of the things we had and add some to it.”

Michael Betteridge is the operations manager with www.WJTM.org, the on-line radio station the Christian Radio Coalition operates. His plan is the blend WJTM’s programming with a lot of the local programming WTHU already runs.

For instance, they already have a good program on Sundays from Pioneer Baptist,” Betteridge said. “A lot of what is at the station will stay. That is the purpose of local programming.”

The reported purchase price for the 500-watt station is $150,000, which includes the 5-acre property on Radio Lane in Thurmont. The station’s broadcast area covers all of Frederick County and even beyond. The station’s call letters will remain WTHU and while Walmer is selling the radio station, he said he is retaining his newspaper, Thurmont Times Monthly.

Walmer had been at WTHU since 1989 and owned it since 1992. Of the things he was proud about during his ownership was, “I liked the local flavor of being in the community with local programming.”

Betteridge agreed. He is distressed by the growth of large radio networks that broadcast “canned programming you neither want nor need.”

Betteridge plans to have local news, local weather and even local ski reports on the new WTHU. Programming will be broadcast on the new web site www.wthu.org and the community will also be able to rate programming and access other features from the web site.

“We really welcome the involvement of the community in building this station,” Betteridge said.

When the official changeover in ownership happens, Betteridge plans on having a gala celebration to announce it to the community.

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