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Community radio seeks to expand
The volunteers at Sequim’s hometown radio station have big dreams for 2011.
Two years after a handful of people got the nonprofit radio station KSQM on air, there are now more than 100 volunteers — ranging in age from early teens to late 80s — and 1,000 supporters.
Volunteer coordinator Tama Bankston said donations increased 20 percent from 2009-2010. Millions of songs from vinyl records, which mostly span the 1940s-1960s, were donated from people in Sequim and more come in all the time.
With support like that, it is no wonder the station’s board of directors acquired building permits for a larger broadcast tower that would expand coverage.
Bankston said the tower will be constructed on Blue Mountain and would reach Port Angeles with no problem. Right now the station is best received in Sequim but also reaches listeners in Port Townsend, Vancouver Island, Cape George and Joyce, she said.
The station is collecting donations for the tower construction, which Bankston said should come together later this year or early in 2012.
By expanding the listener base, Bankston said she hopes the donation base also will expand. Right now donations cover the station expenses with a little left over, she said, but not enough to hire any paid staff.
Jeff Bankston, Tama’s husband and station manager, said he never has seen a community where people are so generous with their money and time.
“Time is so fleeting and the people who volunteer are really volunteering part of the rest of their lives,” he said.
Jeff Bankston said 80 percent of the station’s announcers never had been on the radio before they came to KSQM.
Having no prior experience in nonprofit administration, Jeff Bankston said it is unique to have a radio station that people can listen to and get involved with.
It is the public involvement that helps the station achieve its purpose.
“We want to reflect the community,” he said.
The station debuted its first radio drama, “Adrian Cross, For Hire: The Schooner Mystic Rose,” on Jan. 16. The drama was produced by 20 local volunteers, though not all KSQM volunteers, and featured the Port Angeles Symphony.
Jeff Bankston said the station will feature more weekend radio dramas throughout the year.
For the second year, KSQM is airing a special for Valentine’s Day weekend, Feb. 12-14. The special, called “Precious Memories,” features listener-submitted song requests prefaced with their personal memories.
“When you hear a song, it triggers a memory,” Bankston said. “We’ll find the music, you provide the memory.”
Last year the station collected close to 100 memories, she said.
The Oak Table Cafe is sponsoring the special and offering gift certificates as a premium for donations of $100 or more to the station. The first five people to submit a memory with a song also will get a gift certificate.
The weekend will end with an open house for KSQM supporters. From noon-4 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, supporters can stop by the station for milk and cookies.
To submit a memory for the “Precious Memories” special, call 681-0000.
Reach Amanda Winters at email@example.com.