Nonprofit applies for new FM radio station license in West Sacramento
FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — DEC 18, 2013 —
FM 92.9 would be part of effort to create a grassroots media organization for West Sac
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The News-Ledger and its editor, Steve Marschke, are a part of the effort described below. Volunteers are attempting to create a grassroots, nonprofit news center to serve West Sacramento into the future.)
A West Sacramento nonprofit group has filed an application with the FCC to create a local, low-power FM radio station in West Sacramento. The group has asked for authorization to use bandwidth at 92.9 on the dial.
What kinds of shows might be aired at the new station?
“We’re hopeful in three areas,” said Wes Beers, a project proponent. “One is to bring a lot more community-based news to West Sacramento. The second is to partner with the city (government) in part to be available for emergency broadcasting, but also to broadcast items of interest to the city. Last, and maybe the most fun and exciting part, would be to work with the schools to broadcast school news and partner with them academically to enrich their broadcasting and journalism programs.”
The partnerships could involve River City High School and the local branch of the Sacramento City College, said Beers.
“They could broadcast school basketball games, football games, swim meets – and I think there’s an ability to ‘stream’ these broadcasts to the internet,” he added.
The City of West Sacramento paid the $2,000 consulting fee to a Davis-based nonprofit that assembled this radio station application. The application included an engineering study intended to show the new station would not interfere with existing stations that are nearby on the map and also nearby on the dial.
What does the city government want for its investment?
“Their interest, I think, is twofold,” said Beers. “They believe that having another form of communication to the community for an emergency situation would be a vital resource. And secondly, I think they’re excited about having the opportunity to enrich the community and the schools.”
The radio station application process can be competitive, and the Federal Communications Commission hasn’t yet responded to the application. But the names of all the other applicants have been released, and it doesn’t appear that anyone else in the region has submitted a conflicting claim for the same bandwidth.
The new radio proposal came out of a project to create a nonprofit news and information organization.
Beers, a former West Sacramento mayor and city councilman, began meeting in 2012 with the News-Ledger and various local citizens interested in starting a local, nonprofit media group.
“So much of our news is fed to us by bigger and bigger corporations, and this will keep and maintain an opportunity for a local perspective,” said Beers.
The group learned in July that the FCC would shortly accept applications for new low-power FM radio licenses – a relatively rare offering from the feds. Local volunteers, including Jim Brewer (who is also active in the local historical society and a Bryte/Broderick area community group) quickly scrambled to hit the FCC’s application deadline.
Meanwhile, this same group of eight volunteers became the new board of the West Sacramento Neighbors Fair, Inc. — an existing nonprofit in West Sac.
The Neighbors Fair organization was winding down its mission of bringing an annual community fair to West Sacramento, and its former leaders invited the new blood to take the helm and pursue a new type of “educational” nonprofit mission.
The new board is now starting to “repurpose” that nonprofit, said Beers.
It’s the West Sacramento Neighbors Fair nonprofit that filed for the radio license last month. Its new board members include Beers, his wife Jolaine Beers, Brewer, retired city manager Joe Goeden, Charlotte Dorsey, Carrie Fisher, John Siden and Gina Spadafori.
In Davis, the community radio station (“KDRT”) shares a building with a public access cable TV production facility.
The West Sacramento nonprofit is exploring a vision that could include print and online news, cable TV features, online streaming of video and audio, and the proposed radio station.
But all that is still in its planning stages.
West Sacramento is already home to KJAY radio at AM 1430. According to its website, KJAY brings the Sacramento region programming that includes Hmong-language features, religious programs and “international” content. KJAY is located in rural Southport.
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Copyright News-Ledger 2013