Ballardites seek to create neighborhood radio station
Imagine a community radio station tailored specifically for Ballard.
The possibilities are endless.
News. Talk. Local music. Heritage shows. Historical segments. Educational bits. Debates. PSAs. What have you.
It could be a place where a variety of voices and characters from around the community gather and connect and trade ideas.
Thanks to the Federal Communications Commission, who are reopening a window for low-powered FM (LPFM) licenses starting Oct. 15, a Ballard-centric radio station could become a reality.
LPFM broadcasts at around 100 watts or less and, depending on the area and the station built, would reach around three miles in an urban setting. Here in Ballard, Eric Muhs is spearheading the idea of a Ballard-based station that would reach south to Magnolia/Queen Anne, east to Phinney Ridge/Fremont and north to Loyal Heights/Crown Hill.
Over at Brown Paper Tickets, the philanthropic “Doer” program has been hard at work to try and encourage these little radio stations in Seattle.
“With their minimal operating costs and neighborhood-oriented broadcast range, LPFMs can quickly become local multi-platform cultural hubs, provide hands-on media training, and help reinforce the fact that our airwaves are designed to serve the public good,” Brown Paper Tickets writes on their website.
Muhs, a Ballard High School physics teacher, is no stranger to this type or radio station. When he was teaching in California several years ago, he built and ran a radio station with students.
Right now, Muhs says he has about 30 people in Ballard who have expressed a serious interest in the idea. Some have more experience than him, which is good because the application process can be difficult and complicated. Applicants have to carefully select the frequency, power and antenna height as not to interfere too much with existing stations.
“We are making a really serious run at trying to get this application finished,” Muhs said. “We’re really working hard to get it all done.”
To start off, Muhs said the station would be volunteer run, but they can apply for grants to try and offer pay. Several Seattle organizations offer possible sources of revenue, including 4Culture, the Department of Neighborhoods and the Seattle Department of Information Technology.
While the Ballard radio, should it come to life, wouldn’t be officially going through Seattle Public Schools, Muhs said that he would love to see Ballard High School students participate and help out. Some students have already expressed interest, he said.
The radio station could have an emergency preparedness aspect to it. One of the antenna locations they’re scoping is at a house that’s run on solar power, so it could be a reliable form of communication should a disaster hit.
Muhs’ working title for the station is KBFG, as in Ballard, Fremont and Greenwood. He says it appears to be available (and it is a fun community name), but it wouldn’t be final until the FCC gives the final OK.
In any case, Muhs is optimistic that a small radio station could do much to draw the community together.
“I’ve been pitching the idea that this is potentially a fulcrum for the community,” Muhs said. “… The vision really is community radio in the deepest most meaningful sense of what that could be.”
To learn more or get involved, visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/KBFG-Ballard-Fremont-Greenwood-Radio/1671... or contact Eric Muhs at email@example.com.
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