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Group pursues community radio project

Another FM radio station might be joining the airwaves over Curry County soon.

A group of Brookings residents is delving into the low-power FM community radio genre in hopes of offering an array of programming that local commercial stations serving the area cannot always afford to do.

“We need to have more community involvement; we want to find a way to reach out to all segments of the community to help bring people together, keep people more informed about what’s going on and address some of the issues we see going on,” said Tom Bozack, president of the board. “What really put us over the top was the county budget crisis: all the anger, the misinformation and contention that’s been going on for several years. It’s unnecessary. Maybe we can help with that.”

The board includes Tom and Linda Bozack, Dominic Hammon, John and Rose Weiss and Candice Michel.

Among the ideas is to showcase local musicians, air music by newer and unknown artists, work with schools, service groups and volunteer groups to bring new ideas and fresh voices to the airwaves and provide discussions about important local concerns.

 Additionally, the station hopes to offer in-depth interviews with community leaders and offer students an opportunity to learn about radio career opportunities.

It helped that the Federal Communications Commission opened up a second round for applications for such radio stations — the second time it’s ever done so, Bozack said.

“The opportunity landed in our laps,” he said. “Someone in Florence is establishing a station there, and Prometheus Radio helped out; it all just came together.”

The Prometheus Radio Project is a not-for-profit association dedicated to the “democratization of the airwaves through the proliferation of non-commercial, community based, micro-power stations,” according to its website. It often challenges the FCC in court regarding ownership of radio stations.

“Our mission is to provide an effective platform for the free exchange of artistic expression, information, and differing viewpoints to encourage cooperation and collaboration among local government entities, schools, service groups, other non-profits and population segments whose voices are often not heard or heeded,” Bozack wrote in an email.

Its call letters are KCIW — “What Radio is Meant to be.”

“We jokingly call it Curry is Wonderful,” Bozack said with a chuckle. “Most of the good (call letters) are used up. We tried to go with CC, for Curry County, but that also matches ‘community church,’ and a large number of these low-power ones are community churches.”

As soon as the board receives its federal nonprofit status, it will accept donations and solicit grants to get the station operating. Bozack said it will cost about $35,000 to establish the station, and about $10,000 a year to keep it running.

The board is also seeking letters of support from the community so it can show foundations the project has local support.

“That’s critical, to show we’re not a fly-by-night operation, that we’re capable of meeting our goals,” Bozack said. 

Those whose music or interviews would be aired have expressed their enthusiasm for the idea, as well, he said.

“Musicians are eager to have an outlet for their music, to get a wider audience than a few concerts or gigs,” Bozack said. “We’ve also talked with various government officials, and they’re very positive about the idea. It’s a way to communicate directly with the public. Also, people whose voices aren’t normally heard in the community.”

Under FCC regulations, the board has until next summer to begin operations; the radio frequency will be 100.7 FM. Music is currently streaming at KCIW.org.

“It’s a learning curve,” Bozack said. “None of us are radio people. We have a lot to learn, but you gotta start somewhere.” 

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