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CHAMPAIGN — A new antenna for WEFT Community radio 90.1 is going up this week if Mother Nature cooperates.

WEFT, which plays an eclectic mix of music commercial-free, is operated mainly by volunteers out of studios in downtown Champaign.

Vicki Niswander, one of those volunteers with an on-air presence, explained that in 2018, the station was put on notice that the tower that holds its broadcast antenna had been condemned. That led to a decision to relocate the antenna to a nearby tower on a high point in Mahomet and buy a new antenna to replace the current one, which is about 30 years old.

With the new antenna now in hand — expenses have run about $40,000 so far — the plan is to start the work on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be going up over three days ... when they take the old equipment down, set the new antenna up, and move the transmitter to a new building that is next to the new tower,” she said.

“We have to go off the air when the work is happening but we will be broadcasting online so programming will continue. People can go to and hear all the programs they normally hear,” said Niswander.

The new antenna is expected to function much better in central Illinois’ nastier weather.

Because it will be higher, the transmitter won’t have to use as much power, so it will save on electricity expenses. The station’s signal cannot go any farther because of FCC restrictions, Niswander said.


Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).