Dec. 3, 2002 – If you want to help make sure National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," "Morning Edition" and other favorites keep reaching your radio via the territory's airwaves, call WVGN to pledge your $40 membership contribution during the station's December membership drive.
Of course, if you want to give more, nobody will turn you down. And if you make your donation by Dec. 31, you can write it off on your 2002 tax return.
The toll-free number to call is (866) 480-8029. It's in operation from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. There may be a brief delay after the initial recorded greeting until an operator comes on the line.
WVGN went on the air in September thanks to the generosity of Keith Bass, a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur who made a killing in the dot.com field and got out before it tanked. His sister, Karen Bass, is president of Caribbean Community Broadcasting, the not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation which holds the license for the station.
Karen Bass, who also lives in Los Angeles, said her brother was able and willing to provide the upfront $500,000 it took to get the station on air, but he can't continue his support indefinitely. "Listener support is really critical," she said.
She said a lot of support has been forthcoming already from V.I. residents who were used to listening to NPR when they lived on the mainland.
While most National Public Radio affiliate stations begin at public universities with a groundswell of community support, Karen Bass said WVGN got off the ground in a different way.
She said her brother visited the Virgin Islands, fell in love with the place and decided he wanted to develop a public radio station in the territory. Since there were no educational radio frequencies available, he decided to buy the commercial station WVGN and turn it into a public radio station.
Karen Bass said she works on public policy issues in South Central Los Angeles, where NPR reported on her work.
The station, which broadcasts at 107.3 FM around the clock, is limited to national news and features for the time being, but Karen Bass said listener support will enable it to develop some local programming.
For the current lineup, visit the WVGN Web site.
WVGN has a St. Thomas office on Main Street with Lorraine Baa-Elisha as manager. The Innovative Telephone strike hampered the installation of a phone line, but Baa-Elisha said she expects to have a working phone shortly.
Lack of a local phone isn't holding up the fund drive, though. Supporters can make their donations with using a credit card by calling the toll-free number. They also can make pledges and arrangements for credit-card deductions (monthly, quarterly or all at once) online at the Web site. For those who prefer to pay by check, the mailing address is: WVGN, 6/7 Dronningens Gade, St. Thomas VI 00802.
Karen Bass said she will be arriving for a visit in the Virgin Islands on Dec. 14. She said her brother intends to purchase a home in the territory but hasn't decide on which island.

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