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KMUZ’s Community Radio Dream in Salem, Oregon: Will Reggae Save the Day?

KMUZ Fundraises for New Community Radio Station

In Salem, Oregon there’s a new community radio station in the works with an anticipated launch date of early next year. KMUZ, aka “People Powered Community Radio,” is currently licensed to the Salem Folklore Community and will be located at 88.5 FM.

Before the station is able to launch, they need to raise tens of thousands of dollars in order to purchase equipment. They are seeking donations on their website and have also set up a webstore where they are selling KMUZ-themed merchandise (some with the headphone logo pictured in this post), including T-shirts, aprons, tote bags, water bottles, etc.

According to their website,

“KMUZ will be all about diversity and community ownership. We want to give a voice to those who are not given a voice in mainstream media – namely, localswith engaging ideas and/or news. And then there’s the music ... the kind that you won’t hear on commercial radio…anything goes. The station will evolve as people from the Mid-Willamette Valley step up to offer their music and thoughts to the rest of us.”

KMUZ utilized a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise $1700 so that they could promote and hold a special event, The Life of Bob Marley, featuring reggae expert and author Roger Steffens. It is hoped that the multi-media event, being held tomorrow night (October 29th at 7pm at Willamette University), will bring in more funds for the community radio station.

In addition to seeking cash donations, KMUZ is also looking for all kinds of broadcast equipment in order to get the station off the ground, including headphones, transmitter, antenna, turntables, etc. They have transmission equipment (PDF) and broadcast studio equipment (PDF) wishlists posted on their website for potential donors to peruse. The transmission equipment list also includes the estimated costs for the equipment and installation, making if pretty clear how much money the station needs to raise for specific items. I know that lots of radio stations have unused equipment gathering dust, so it would be great to see it put to good use at an upstart like KMUZ.

As an article in the Salem Weekly pointed out, KMUZ is at a critical juncture and needs to raise enough money to get the station on the air by August 2011 in order to retain its broadcast license. The article states that, “If fundraising goes well at the reggae event, then hopefully the station will be streaming online in the spring” and shares the perspective of KMUZ’s Karen Holman, “‘We are the second biggest market in Oregon, and we don’t have a community radio station.'” If KMUZ is able to secure the needed funds, then Salem may indeed have a community radio station by next year.


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4 Responses to KMUZ’s Community Radio Dream in Salem, Oregon: Will Reggae Save the Day?

  1. nocomradio October 28, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    So what we have here is a “radio station” with no equipment, no start-up capital, no business plan (yes, I know its a community station, but still….) and they somehow secured a license which is about to run out?

    I think they need some management and a couple investors in my opinion. Then they’d have a direction and some sort of credibilty. As I see it here, there isn’t anything more than a bunch of people marketing some readily available promotional items to drum up some cash and try to get this thing off the ground at the last minute to keep the license active. It’s nice to have a dream and a vision, but it won’t work if you don’t.

    Where is this headed, really, and ultimately it seems as if this is why LPFM and community licenses are so hard to get because there are a lot of great ideas, but little action.

  2. Jennifer Waits October 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    They applied for their license in 2006, were awarded the license and a construction permit in 2008 (after beating out a few other stations), and now have until August 2011 to get things up and running. Various fundraising efforts have taken place and they do have a studio location secured. From the article that I read, it just sounds like the fundraising has been more difficult than they had expected due to the economy, etc. It’s hard to tell what’s going on with them management-wise and I don’t know if they started with any capital. But, I’m sure that they would welcome input and advice and investment from interested parties.

    I’m just really happy to see that community groups are still applying for FCC licenses, despite all of the financial hurdles. If you scan through the lists of those being awarded stations, it’s often bigger groups (public radio conglomerates, religious conglomerates), so I think we should all do what we can to support these smaller, independent, local stations. You’re right that it’s often a much bigger struggle for the “little guys” to get things up and running.

  3. Jennifer Waits October 29, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Actually, it looks like they applied for the license during the non-commercial educational FM license window in October, 2007.

  4. nocomradio October 30, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    3 years is more than enough time to get things in gear. The raising of capital should have started the minute the license was awarded.

    Why did they wait this long to get critical things like start-up capital, equipment etc into place?

    I wish them all the best, but to raise enough to purchase equipment, a studio, and other expenses including salaries for the employees (unless they are all volunteers) is going to be very hard at this stage in the game. Proving to anyone that this will be sucessful is tough when there has been this much time past. Add to that, the fact its a community radio station unlikely to be heard by a large audience and you get an even harder sell to any investors. A bank won’t even touch a situation like this without a business plan in writing and submitted before even filling out a loan application. We’re talking probably a few hundred thousand dollars here, by the way, unless this is in someone’s basement.

    For the record: I am not against this and do hope it suceeds, as I feel LPFM and community stations are a real asset, but reality needs to be reasoned with, and just having a great idea isn’t enough to get a business off the ground. The economy isn’t the problem. Knowledge of how to start and run a business may be in this situation.

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