Radio is a vibrant and growing medium, despite changes in listening habits. The explosion of podcasting is just one sign that listening to engaging stories that offer bigger insights into life, is growing. This is building a bigger radio audience, where over 90% of people listen to radio at least once a day. It’s still a dominant medium with huge potential to reach people in real time.

What’s at stake in ownership and control of our non-commercial airwaves?

What’s at stake is our freedom to speak and be informed. What’s at stake is a non-commercial musical and cultural world that needs supporting and celebrating so that it can express what mere information cannot.

Have you tuned in to mainstream media lately? Much of it is corporate-controlled and driven by a mission of consumerism and sensationalism.  We want to support the main cannons of ethical journalism; truth, accuracy, fairness, and speaking truth to power. Local media can play a powerful role in making sure our elected officials are held accountable to those who elected them. There is a whole world of music and the arts that doesn’t get much airtime. We want to fix that.

rockerHow do I make a donation?  

Here is our crowdfunding link to donate online. To save the 3% fees for credit card you can snail mail a check to Media Watch, PO Box 618 Santa Cruz, CA 95061, or use PayPal and signify your donation should go to the new community radio station.

Do I get a refund it you can’t buy this station?

Yes. When we raised money last year to try to buy KUSP in bankruptcy court, we refunded everyone who requested it. We will do so again if we can’t consummate this license purchase, but we are hoping we won’t have to!

I wish I could give more money. What else can I do to help?

Where will the money go?

All monies will go to purchase the license and transmitter of for 90.7 FM. If we have money left over we will use that money to help us through the first year’s budget, including rent, internet, fees to play music, utilities and much more. Detailed budgets are available to share, just ask.

What is the timeline?

We are currently aiming for winter/spring of 2018 to go on the air.

How much will it cost?

The most recent stated price for this frequency is $265,000, and it includes taking over the tower rental lease that is $1,500 a month to use. Our goal is to raise as much as possible in hopes that we will have money left over for initial operating costs. We are aiming for $300,000 so will still have funds to cover expenses as we get the station up and running.

How will you succeed in running a sustainable station when the previous board failed?

We plan on starting out with many volunteers, and we are looking for a considerably lower-priced location for the station. There are many other community stations around the country who have successfully implemented a scaled-down, locally-sourced model. (Two good examples are KWMR in West Marin http://kwmr.org/ and KVMR in Nevada City http://www.kvmr.org/ ). We do not plan on running NPR in a market where it is already offered.

Who will run and own the new community radio station?

We will! We are operating with Media Watch, a local nonprofit as our fiscal agent, to facilitate the rebirth of community radio in Santa Cruz County. While individuals can’t own a radio license, a nonprofit with a board of directors can. The station will be overseen by a diverse, committed Board of Directors. Day-to-day operations will be managed by a small paid staff, and a large group of volunteers will provide their time and knowledge to make the station a success. Our goal is maximum inclusion on a mostly volunteer-staffed, locally-focused community station.

What will it sound like?

Community radio reflects the unique place and culture in which we live. You will hear familiar shows from local music experts you have come to love, as well as news, public affairs, and cultural programs. We plan to bring back Your Call, Democracy Now!, Talk of the Bay, Ask Dr. Dawn, The Latin Quarter, and other popular shows, and we will include a training program to reach youth and other marginalized voices. We ask that you fill out our survey to help us find out what you would like to hear and what you might want to help host or produce.

What is community radio as distinguished from public radio?

Community radio stations serve their listeners by offering a variety of content that is not provided by the larger commercial radio stations. Community radio stations carry news and information programming geared toward the diversity of the local area, and in particular, those groups poorly served by major media outlets. Specialized musical shows are also often a feature of many community radio stations. Community radio stations typically avoid content found on commercial outlets such as Top 40 music, sports, and “drive-time” personalities. It has been said that community radio should be 10 percent radio and 90 percent community. Community radio has been built around the ideals of access and participation. Stations are run by locals to serve a local audience.

How will this serve the community?

There are many nonprofits and social justice groups in the area that are doing important work. We envision providing space on the air for groups to discuss the issues they care about. We also will provide emergency broadcast services in our times of extreme weather patterns. We will celebrate the arts through numerous programs highlighting artists, musicians, writers, painters, dancers and more. We also will provide news about local politics and candidates in order to educate voters and offer the citizens of our community a chance to interact with their elected leaders.

Isn’t Radio Dead?

The media environment into which we are entering is one in which the audience has become accustomed to NPR, BBC, national and international news, and receiving much of their information and music online. We will need to build audience for locally focused programs. It is clearly there, but would need to be cultivated through engaging programs, active promotion and outreach in the community. There are stations occupying the NPR niche (KAZU and KQED) and another effectively dominating the alternative music niche (KPIG). Audiences for local radio stations grew 15-17% in the last quarter.


We will be occupying a different niche for listeners.

One thing community radio stations enjoy is listener loyalty. Over time, listeners become like family, giving regularly because they have a personal attachment to the hosts, programs, or the feeling they get listening. It is hard to quantify feeling connected and belonging to a community of listeners, but stations that serve their audiences well are rewarded with long term support in the form of pledges and underwriting, and many other in-kind gifts.

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