For volunteer radio personality Jeff Bankston, KSQM is a necessary addition to Sequim and he's going to do anything from playing music to "steam-cleaning the carpets" to make sure it stays on air.
Bankston, of Sequim, is one of the many volunteers already lined up at the new noncommercial community radio station KSQM-FM 91.5.
Station co-founder Rick Perry said the response he and others at the station have received since going online has been huge.
"It's tremendous the attention we've received," Perry said. "After doing this by ourselves, investing, building and applying for permits, it feels great to be in communication and on the air."
KSQM's music, programs and traffic and weather updates reach as far east as Blyn and west to eastern Port Angeles. The station is close to a Canadian rock station on the dial, but the two frequencies generally stay distinct from each other.
"It's all a work in progress," Perry said. "We're working out the bugs and testing all the equipment. One thing we really want to be ready for is a power outage or some other sort of emergency."
Perry and other radio organizers first pursued the station as a means to communicate emergency messages to the public. The quality programming, made up of music from the post-World War II era to the time Bill Clinton was president, was almost an afterthought.
The station has its own backup generator and can continue operating in a natural disaster or emergency. It also has contact with agencies including Clallam County, the Washington State Patrol and the National Weather Service in order to get up-to-the-minute reports of road conditions and weather.
"We also have our own weath-er station that we use to report the current downtown Sequim temperature," Perry said. "But we supplement that with the national service to give warnings of what may come in addition to the way the weather currently is."
The station will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It might not be staffed throughout the night and would be put on
autopilot for a few hours between disc jockeys.
Bankston said he's willing to disc jockey at any time but is happy with his current daytime slot.
"I think that radio is one of the last places for free expression and that music is the best way to do it," he said. "I'm really looking forward to playing some old hits from Les Brown, Jo Stafford and Louis Armstrong as well as increasing the station's mix of newer music, which I hope to be a part of."
Perry said he understands that not everyone is a fan of the music the station is playing.
"It's going to serve a wider population as the DJs and content develop, but for now we're really glad to be up and running," he said. "Now we have to finish building and organizing the station, like we have volunteers coming in soon to organize stacks and stacks of LP records."
The station is equipped with state of the art technology yet is able to handle classic music mediums, such as vinyl records.
"This is the best setup I've seen," said Bankston, who used to be a disc jockey for KIEV 870 AM in the Los Angeles, Calif., area.
The station is looking for volunteers for a number of jobs, including doing work in the newsroom.
"It's not a newsroom exactly, more of a community calendar," Perry said. "But we will be collecting information like community events, service club events or government meetings and disseminating that on the radio."
KSQM will not have commercials. It will have underwriters, or "brought to you by" spots open for businesses. Perry said the spots as well as community-based donations will become necessary to keep the station viable in the long term.
"I've invested a lot to get us this far," he said. "But to make this thing really a success, it must be able to stand on its own two feet"
For more information on KSQM or its founding organization Sequim Community Broadcasting, visit scbradio.com or call 681-0000.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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