Story by Lourice Angie
Officials from the Town and Village of Warwick, along with local dignitaries and members of the community assembled on Thurs., Oct. 26 at the Warwick Town Hall to honor Frank Truatt, the owner of WTBQ Radio in Warwick.
WTBQ is an independent community radio station that features live local talk shows and specialty programming throughout Orange County, parts of Sullivan County and northern New Jersey as well as Pike County in Pennsylvania. In 1995, WTBQ was one of the first radio stations to have a website and now in 2017, is one of the last locally owned radio stations in the country. WTBQ can be live streamed by visiting their website or by downloading their app to a cell phone or tablet.
WTBQ became one of the first American AM stations to use an FM translator when it began airing on Jan., 25, 2008. On Jan., 28, 2011, WTBQ switched its FM frequency to 93.5 FM. Although the radio station broadcasts during the daylight hours only, WTBQ is the first radio station in the Hudson Valley that has streamed on the internet 24 hours a day since 1999.
Frank Truatt has helped transform WTBQ into a radio station that is unique in stature and in content. The station is so unique that The Wall Street Journal ran a story and pictures on the station. In 1994 Truatt made a very important investment in the future of local broadcasting here in Warwick when he purchased the dormant radio station WTBQ.
For the last 23 he has given a crucial voice to thousands of local individuals and institutions in Warwick and beyond. Under his enduring leadership and vision this “little station that could” has helped raise funds to preserve historic buildings, to save farmland, to give recognition to nonprofit organizations seeking to provide food and clothing to those in need, and to alert listeners to important cultural, historical, political, and business issues.
“I walk into WTBQ and it’s like going down a gallery of a hall of fame filled with awards that the radio station has received from various organizations throughout the County and beyond, but I didn’t see anything with Frank’s name on it, only WTBQ. Without Frank, we wouldn’t have WTBQ today. I thought it was high time that we all recognize Frank’s contributions. This radio station has done so much for us. It was instrumental in saving the Union AME Church that was going to be demolished on McEwen St. He has given a voice to non-profit organizations that do so much for our community. As a Historian I’ve seen what really gives democracy in our country its strength – our media, our newspapers, our radio, our television. We need here in our communities to have that kind of a voice to bring the issues forward,” said Warwick Historian Dr. Richard Hull.
Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton said, “The contribution that WTBQ makes in the community is amazing. There are communities all across the nation that don’t have this resource. In terms of emergencies, we make sure we get information out instantaneously. Most people can still get a transistor radio and have it for emergencies so they can always get up to the minute information on road closings or disasters that are happening and the resources they need. So we feel blessed; and that’s just one of the reasons we wanted to recognize your efforts.”
Orange County Legislators John Vero and Barry Cheney were also presented Truatt with a certificate of recognition for his 23 years of dedicated service to the community.
“Before we were elected, Barry Cheney, Paul Ruszkiewicz, and I knew the name. I knew the voice but I didn’t know the man. Fortunately when we were elected, we were offered a show on Thursday mornings at 9 a.m. and I got to personally know Frank and the things that WTBQ offers to the community and to all of us and the opportunities. The way he directs things and is always involved in the community; he welcomes changes on the show. I’m just happy to be a part of it,” said Vero.
Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard continued the accolades by saying that he was fortunate to be on the radio this year, a very special year of Warwick’s Sesquicentennial celebration.
“Having WTBQ Radio and being able to get the word out and to be able to encapsulate and say what is happening and what will happen. The things we’ve been trying to do have been local. That’s the exciting part. It isn’t tri-state tourism; it’s about the Valley and community building. To do it through WTBQ has been an honor and a wonderful vehicle to do it,” said Mayor Newhard.
Truatt then took to the podium saying, “Twenty three years I had a very tough decision to make. I knew Warwick because I part timed up here at WTBQ. I knew it was an a.m. daytime only radio station. Knowing there was a mess and the equipment was pretty much non existent, the station was off the air for almost 18 months. I thought to myself, I love radio and this would be the perfect place to do it. Is it going to work? I ultimately went with my heart and bought the radio station anyway. I got the knack for what local radio was all about. A lot of tweaking and still to this day I’m amazed to go home at night and it’s dark outside and the radio is on and that didn’t happen until 13 years later.”
The list of people to embrace the airwaves is almost endless. Many diverse programs and the morning show that keeps people entertained and informed in an upbeat way. John Stein’s Hootenanny Cafe, local singers, a jazz program that pairs jazz and wine, a wine show, a horse show, various health programs, and all of the political shows, shows celebrating Warwick’s 150th, Warwick Wildcats football, Nascar Racing, Polka shows, and more.
“A lot of times I sit down and I think ‘what would Ed Klein say?’ After all, the station started in 1969. He had a vision and his vision was to have a community radio station, a place to turn to for local news and everything around town. Today’s reach of WTBQ extends way beyond that of Warwick and even Orange County. Internet listeners all over the world can get us. So to Ed Klein, thanks for starting this great gem called WTBQ and thanks to all of you for recognizing what I and my staff have done for the last 23 years,” said Truatt.
WTBQ broadcasts at 93.5 FM and 1110 AM and they can be found online at www.wtbq.com.