MANCHESTER — For decades, WEQX-FM has been Manchester’s independent home for new music.
Now, the radio station has created a way for folks to share music — one that doesn’t require an internet connection.
The “FREEQX Library,” a box perched outside the station’s Elm Street offices and studios, will officially open to the public on Thursday during the alternative rock radio station’s annual Parking Lot Party, between 4 and 7 p.m.
Any format of recorded music is welcome at the FREEQX Library: vinyl records, CDs, cassettes, even 8-tracks and reel-to-reel tapes if you want to part with them.
Station program director Jeff Morad got the idea driving around the Northshire, when he saw a Little Free Library — a place where people can take or leave a book — and realized the station could do the same thing with its music collection.
“Every year during the annual sidewalk sale we put free albums out on the curb. Why not make that a year-round thing?” Morad said. “So many records come our way, and we love sharing music.”
Morad had the materials for the library, as well.
“I got a new deck put on the house last summer, so I had endless supplies of scrap wood,” he said. He and station engineer Eric Mazur put the library together.
The box has an overhang to help keep the elements out, and will have a solar-powered fan to regulate temperatures and keep the music from melting. But Morad and the station staff will keep an eye on the weather and pull the contents inside if conditions threaten the tunes.
“Really there’s no rules, other than don’t damage it, and don’t abuse it,” Morad said.
The unveiling will come during the party, which Morad said is an opportunity for the station and some of its key sponsors to get out and meet its neighbors in Manchester’s Historic Depot District.
“It’s something we started out a few years ago,” Morad said. “It’s a fun way of hanging out with our advertising partners in the craft beverage world and a cool way to get to know the neighbors we have to out the studio window.”
The independently owned station, thanks to its antenna atop Mount Equinox, reaches listeners in Glens Falls, Saratoga Springs and the Capital District in New York to the west, the Berkshires to the south and New Hampshire to the east. Playing an alternative rock format at 102.7 FM on the dial and online at its website, the station also has shows featuring jazz, jam band music, recovery-oriented hip hop and local musicians.
There’s been a strong sense of community at the shows and events the station promotes and sponsors this year, Morad said, and strong attendance, as well.
“We’ve never felt more connected to the community,” Morad said. “A lot of people feel that way because of the pandemic. We certainly feel that way.”
The station has been playing music by some of the artists scheduled to appear at the Green Mountain Bluegrass and Roots Festival on two of its weekly programs, “The Coffee House” (Saturdays, 7 to 9 a.m.) and “Jam ‘n Toast” (Thursday 9 to 11 p.m., Saturday 9 to 11 a.m.). They’ll also broadcast live from the festival site at Hunter Park on Aug. 18, as the festival is setting up for its Aug. 19 to 21 run.