Two new community radio stations are coming to the Shasta County airwaves. A station operated by Acorn Community Enterprises of Round Mountain is scheduled to start broadcasting during the first quarter of 2011. Meanwhile, Redding-based nonprofit organization People of Progress is starting its station construction campaign after receiving a Federal Communications Commission license in September.
Acorn installed equipment on Hatchet Mountain this fall and conducted broadcast tests earlier this month. To Acorn’s surprise, the station – KKRN, 88.5 FM – could be heard in an area stretching from Burney to Redding and as far south as Corning.
“It’s been a very long, slow road,” said Staci Wadley, executive director for the nonprofit group. “It was a big milestone for us to get our transmitter and our antenna up. Actually having people hear the station for a few days has brought some renewed energy for the station. It got people excited.”
There is one significant impact caused by KKRN: It will likely overpower the Burney translator for Northstate Public Radio operated by California State University, Chico, according to KCHO/KFPR general manager Brian Terhorst, who said that broadcast regulations permit full-power service to trump translators.
“That would be a sad loss for us,” Terhorst said. “But in the abstract, the way I see it is, the more the merrier. Anytime a new community station comes into the fold, it can only be good.”
Community radio stations are just that – nonprofit enterprises operated solely by and for the communities they serve. Terhorst readily admits his heart is in community radio. Before coming to Northstate Public Radio, he was general manager of Nevada City’s legendary community radio station KVMR, and he has served on the board of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. He said Northstate Public Radio is happy to cooperate with the new stations.
There’s no question the new operations will need all the help they can get. People of Progress, which provides food, clothing, shelter and services to needy individuals and families, received an FCC license that establishes a three-year deadline for getting on the air at 90.1 FM. With its transmitter and antenna on Oregon Mountain in Trinity County, the station’s signal should stretch from Weaverville in the west to about Bella Vista in the east, according to Melinda Brown, POP executive director.
“We didn’t do this for music, we did this for a community service,” Brown said. ‘My main goal is to increase common understanding of things and reduce bitterness. If we can increase access and understanding, that would be huge.”
Brown envisions the station broadcasting local news and community forums, author readings, radio theater, live music, and national programming not already available. But she’s quick to note that specific programming discussions are premature.
“Mainly, we have to raise a lot of money, and write a lot of grant applications,” Brown said.
Wadley can relate. Her 12-year-old central Shasta County nonprofit group – which is not related to the disgraced national organization ACORN – raised $165,000 in grant funds from the federal government, Redding Rancheria, the Shasta Regional Community Foundation, Sierra Health Foundation and the California Endowment. That’s enough money to pay for the transmitter and antenna, and to build a production studio and main broadcast studio, both of which will be located at the Hill Country Health and Wellness Center.
Acorn Enterprises intends to form a program committee after the first of the year. The federal grant gives Acorn a March 31, 2011, deadline to get on the air. As of now, the radio station’s tentative mission statement mirrors Acorn’s overall goal of promoting healthy families and communities through youth development, family support services and economic development. Wadley said she wants to see local teenagers and community groups participate heavily in station affairs.
“Everybody is going to have to realize we’re going to have to go slowly,” Wadley added. For its recent test, Acorn simply played some compact discs and a broadcast test advisory message.
While Acorn faced no competition for its FCC license granted in 2008, POP had to beat out several Spanish language and Christian broadcasters from out of the area, as well as a Red Bluff church and Humboldt State University, for the right to broadcast at 90.1 FM. The competition was intense, noted Terhorst, because “it’s very likely the last two new frequencies that will ever be assigned to nonprofit, community radio in this region.”
Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and he “don’t feel so alone, got the radio on.” He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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