The first Pagan FM radio station is set to launch tomorrow in the small town of Palenville, New York. The radio station is owned by the Maetreum of Cybele, a Pagan convent most known for winning its lengthy legal battle against the nearby town of Catskill, New York.
The Maetreum was granted a license from the FCC to operate a low power FM radio station.Their broadcast signal area includes the town of Catskil along with a small area outside the town.The Maeterum has a provisional permit for now, but can apply for a standard licence once they are on the air full time.The radio station plans to host a combination of music and local talk radio programming. Rev. Mother Cathryn Platine said the radio station is another way for the convent to serve the local community, “We have found that our ongoing local community involvement has done wonders for our acceptance as a Pagan church, convent and charity as has our commitment to providing a place of safety for the community in emergencies, a positive example of green energy generation and gardens and old fashion homesteading style life.”
Rev Platine says Pagans often isolate themselves from their local community out of fear, but the Maetreum decided to go another route. The Maetreum is hosting the Grassroots Radio Conference. The Grassroots Radio Conference is a national conference of community based, low power FM radio station owners and operators and staff. Rev. Platine expects about 200 people to attend this inaugural conference, which will be held at the Maetreum grounds from September. 24 through the 27th.
Rev Platine says the local community sees the radio station as a “gift to our community that will provide a voice of the people, all the people, on all issues of local importance that often has been overlooked by standard media and local government.” She added that their little hamlet also sees the Maetreum’s legal battle with the town of Catskill as a victory for the hamlet.
That lengthy legal battle, in which the Maetreum needed to defend itself against the town of Catskill, was centered around the exemption that religious organizations receive on their property taxes. The town of Catskill maintained that the Maetreum was an “illegitimate religion” and was using the property for residential, rather than religious uses. The Maetreum said that the town didn’t want to “open the floodgates” to other nonprofit groups claiming tax exemptions, which would then deprive the town of tax revenue. The issue took 8 years and tens of thousands of dollars to resolve. In the end, the Maetreum won the dispute in 2014.
The Maetreum convent grounds were purchased 12 years ago. The temple home itself is called the The Catskill Phrygianum and is the permanent residence of several priestesses of Cybele. The property includes a main temple home that used to be a resort inn settled on over three acres.
To date, the new radio station, 102.9FM, has been mostly funded by the members of the Maetreum itself to the tune of $10,000. They have created a studio and put up the transmitter. Local citizens and members of the Maetreum start hosting community focused shows Friday July 17. As of yet they have no immediate plans of rebroadcasting the programming via the web, but that may be something they do in the future.