Presidio Donates $5,000 To Marfa Public Radio To Boost Signal To Border Community

By Robert Halpern, Big Bend Sentinel-Marfa

The Presidio Municipal Development District (PMDD) has made a $5,000 donation to Marfa Public Radio (MPR) to boost its signal to the south Presidio County border community.

“It really will be ‘from the border to the basin,’” said MPR board of directors’ president Al Davis, in accepting the gift from Presidio economic development director Brad Newton.

The phrase was coined when MPR began broadcasting to the Permian Basin in 2012. Newton said public radio would improve the quality of life for border residents, with the station’s English- and Spanish-language programming, emergency, weather, and river advisories and its appeal to the growing number of travelers to the border.

The vote by PMDD directors was unanimous to make the donation, Newton added.

“It’s exciting and overdue for the station’s broadcast to reach Presidio,” said station general manager Elise Pepple. “We needed some time to figure out how to make it happen and it is a testament to the value of teamwork that it will now become a reality.”

“Residents in both Presidio and Marfa were instrumental in making this possible,” Pepple said. “Thank you, Mayor Ferguson, Joe Portillo, Brad Newton, Ian Lewis, Neil Chavigny, Michael Camacho, and Ginger Griffice. I can’t think of a better place for the transmitter than the water tower with the beautiful mural of an abuela.

“Les damos las mas sinceras gracias a la gente de Presidio por unirse a la estacion de Marfa Public Radio. Pueden comunicarse con nosotros a 432-729-4578.”

The call letters are KOJP and the frequency is FM 95.3.

The signal could be on the air later this year, Davis said, adding that there’s another $15,000 to raise for the needed equipment, and that funding development is under way.

The Presidio City Council last year approved the station’s request to site a transmitter atop the city’s water tower at no cost in a 30-year lease. The station has to pay for its utilities.

Newton said the station also has use of a small building at the tower’s base to house other equipment. The antenna will top the tower on the hill on the city’s north side where the artist El Mac painted the image of an abuela looking down on the Rio Grande valley.

The transmitter will allow the signal to skip over the Shafter Mountains as FM radio signals are line of sight, and the station’s main transmitter atop Brown Mountain in the Davis Mountains were blocked reaching the border.

Davis said both Presidio and its sister city of Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico now will be in broadcast range. Ojinaga has five FM radio stations and two AM stations, all broadcasting in Spanish.

MPR has booster stations in Alpine, Marathon, and the Permian Basin, with studios in Marfa where the radio signal and local programming originate.

Davis acknowledged Neil Chavigny of Marfa for his help in acquiring the broadcast license and establishing a transmitter location.

“Presidio is proud to be a supporter,” Newton said. “We thank you for coming to our community.”

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