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KSQM could go 'on air' this year

Sequim residents may be resetting their preset radio station buttons later this year because Sequim Community Broadcasting is ready to construct its transmitter.

Rick Perry, one of three board members for the organization, said he is so close to being on the air he can almost hear it.

"We've essentially received the final word of approval from the (Federal Communications Commission) and a construction permit for the tower and transmitter," he said. "We've also received final word that we would not conflict with Canadian radio and that we were able to have the call letters KSQM-FM."

Perry said he hopes to have the operation running by the end of the year but expects station details to form as time goes on, especially with the amount of community input he and the board are seeking.

"You won't find a station in this state that will be as focused on a local community as we will be," he said. "Which is why we are so excited to do this, to give the people what they want to listen to and to give them updates in the event of an emergency."

Perry said the idea of the station came during discussions regarding ways to update the community in the event of an emergency. Then word came that the FCC would be accepting applications again for frequency allocations for noncommercial educational stations.

"There were a total of 3,700 applications turned in and we were one of the 600 who made it," he said. "We were very fortunate to have other nearby communities work with us on our applications."

The Port Townsend Seventh-day Adventist Church initially won the rights to broadcast in the area but ended up working with Sequim Community Broadcasting and other radio enthusiasts in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Hood Canal regions to make sure everyone a slice of the pie, so to speak.

The transmitter site will be off Atterberry Road, about 2.5 miles west of the city of Sequim, and will have a 40-foot antenna. The station will have a coverage area from eastern Port Angeles to Diamond Point, barring any unknown dead zones.

"The construction is phased," Perry said. "First we built the transmitter, then we test it, which will involve the public more than likely so that we can find where we go and what we can do to improve that coverage."

The studio site likely will be located at a separate site. Perry and the rest of the board are looking into Sequim and Carlsborg as possible studio locations. The other board members are Keith Burfitt and Linda Perry, who is not related to Rick.

The studio is expected to put out radio content 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Initial plans have KSQM content consisting of '40s, '50s and '60s genre music, local news and updates, radio drama, emergency situation notifications and other community programming, such as area gardening or history programs.

Perry said KSQM volunteers will be keeping in contact with local governing agencies to get their updates on air as well.

"We really want to make sure we are tuned in to what the community wants, so we will be forming an advisory committee to be a conduit from people in the community and the radio station," he said. "We have had a tremendous community response with volunteers and expertise coming out of the woodwork, but we can always use more."

Perry suggested contacting the radio station through its Internet page, www.sbcradio.com, until the organization can get its own phone line.

Perry and his cohorts have invested about $20,000 in legal and engineering costs and he estimates the rest of the project will cost another $60,000.

"We will be looking into ways to make that up as we cannot run commercials per se," he said, indicating the station can use a "brought to you by" advertisement

"But we will have to search out grants and donations to keep it running over time."





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