By Marcy Stamper
The Methow Valley may have three new radio stations in the next year or two, with three successful applicants for low-power FM stations in a recent—and rare—application window from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). These frequencies are available only to noncommercial, educational organizations, according to the FCC.
Methow Valley Radio from Winthrop
The station most likely to be heard first on local airwaves is KTRJ, which will broadcast from Winthrop at 93.7 FM. Methow Valley Radio, the nonprofit that secured the license, received its radio transmitter on Thursday (Feb. 27) and it is currently being tested, said Dave Corrigan, the lead member of the broadcasting team, by email.
Corrigan, his wife, Julie, and daughter Kaity have all been involved in radio for years, most recently managing, programming and hosting radio transmitters in Winthrop, Twisp and Entiat.
All three are amateur radio buffs with experience building electronic devices and radios, said Dave. Dave also has a background in two-way radio repair and installation, computer networking and TV repair.
In addition to helping with construction, Kaity, age 12, will head up the programming for youths. Because Dave has significant hearing loss, Kaity will ultimately handle the sound adjustment for broadcasts, said Dave.
The Corrigans have a head start on broadcasting equipment, having purchased the set-up used by the Friendship Alliance Church, which recently discontinued its low-power broadcasts.
Ultimately KTRJ plans to broadcast 24 hours a day. Program details are still being worked out, but Dave said they envision music, particularly by local artists; programs about agriculture and gardening; health care and fitness; food and cooking; and weather and recreation.
Before they can offer ’round-the-clock programs, they need to obtain equipment to be able to air broadcasts from the FCC emergency-alert system. The station is currently doing fundraising to acquire the $3,000 for the equipment.
Under their present plans, the station will broadcast to a three- to six-mile radius from Winthrop, but they are looking for sites that can reach further.
One of their goals is to operate independently of the commercial power grid, so that the station can broadcast during emergencies. “When the lights go out, we want to be able to keep ours on” to keep people informed in an emergency, said Dave.
Community input and volunteers interested in hosting a radio show are welcome, said Dave. To volunteer or for more information, contact Dave at 996-2545 or email@example.com.
American Legion radio from Twisp
The American Legion Post in Twisp has been granted the frequency at 105.5 FM, which would probably reach listeners within a four-mile radius from the Twisp headquarters, according to Tristan Gilbert, the service officer and commander of the Twisp Post.
Gilbert envisions broadcasting local music and educational programming, particularly for young people. Gilbert would also provide advice to veterans to assist them with applications for benefits such as health care, disability or life insurance.
“It won’t be a big, expensive station,” said Gilbert, who said the organization needs to raise about $4,000 for basic equipment before they can do anything. Anyone interested in working with Gilbert on the station should contact him at 997-5838 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Genevieve’s radio from Twisp
St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church received the third of the new local frequencies, at 107.1 FM. Father Matthew Nicks said some parishioners had expressed an interest in having Catholic radio programming in the Methow Valley, although they have no active plans yet for the station.
A church in Walla Walla that has its own radio station offered to apply for licenses for all the parishes in the Diocese of Spokane, and to cover the application costs, said Nicks. Nicks said the Walla Walla station had been very successful, so the church offered to help others “as an act of charity.”
“It came up unexpectedly,” said Nicks. “We figured, if they’re going to pay for it, we may as well put in an application.”
The parish ultimately hopes for 24-hour Catholic programming, including local broadcasts and sermons, but Nicks said there is considerable research to do about technology and other logistics before they can start broadcasting.