The annual silent auction is one of WRFG-FM (89.3)'s treasured traditions, and past events have included performances by Delta Moon, Mudcat, William Bell, Theodis Ealey and Cedar Hill. "One of my interests is making sure we have an alternative radio station in Atlanta," says Harlon Joye, who co-founded WRFG with five others in 1973.
When he and his wife, Heartfield, first organized the holiday auction in 1993, the goal was to raise funds for a new 100,000-watt transmitter. "We had to launch a campaign to make $150,000. Of course, we didn't make it straight off, but it was the kickoff," says Heartfield, who adds that the station bought the transmitter a little over a year later.
Now, 13 years later, the station's board wants to move the transmitter from its current location on Fair Street to a better location on Briarcliff Road so it can generate a clearer signal. Joye says the National Telecommunications and Information Administration awarded the station a $120,000 grant for the move, and they have to raise $40,000 in matching funds. But, Joye adds, "We'll have to raise more than that to do a complete move," noting that costs could top out at well over $200,000.
All of that makes the silent auction a timely event. For $15, attendees can shop for wares from dozens of local stores such as Coyote's and Jim's of Africa, sample food from restaurants such as Vortex and Manuel's Tavern, and bid on everything from inexpensive jewelry to pricey vacation packages. Scott Hooker and Janet Nelson (who perform together as Standard Deviation) and Bluephonic will provide the mood music. "It's a big party as well as a chance to pick up some gifts," says Joye, who says they hope to raise at least $15,000.
Even though the transmitter move is a top priority, WRFG is solely supported by fundraiser events. "It's only through our fundraisers and our subscribers that we meet our day-to-day expenses," says Joye. At the silent auction, listeners can show their support for the city's only independent outlet for public affairs programming and non-mainstream music.
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