Radio station prompts concerns | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

Residents of Bainbridge Island were recently made aware of the fact that the FCC has granted a permit for a new 50,000-watt AM radio station, KKOL, in the Murden Cove area.

This is of very serious concern for all residents, but especially those who live within the area most impacted by the signal (known as the 1-volt Impacted Signal Area); 50,000 watts is the highest power level permitted by the FCC anywhere for an AM radio station. Concerns include electro-magnetic inference, arcing and health concerns. As noted in the special city council meeting to address this issue, a recent Korean study alleging health dangers from powerful AM radio stations was cited.

It is unusual for a new AM radio station, especially of this power, to be constructed in an existing populated area. At KKOL’s last location — the Port of Tacoma (an industrial area where fewer than 50 people lived within one mile) — they had a 10 year history of causing equipment to spark, and electronic device malfunctions for the port and businesses within a mile of the transmitter site. This became so severe that KKOL ceased broadcast operations in February 2018. Here on Bainbridge, more than 2,700 people live within the 1-volt Impact Area and will be exposed to this same strong radio signal.

The owner of KKOL is part of Salem Media, a very large broadcasting company. They tried to slip in unnoticed (their transmitting equipment is in “temporary” steel containers), apparently to evade COBI land use regulations, legally required building and electrical permits, or scrutiny by the residents of Bainbridge Island. Does this show bad intent, malice aforethought, or recognition that such a powerful station is incompatible in our Bainbridge Island residential setting?

The FCC — which oversees all broadcast radio stations — is a Federal agency. If you are concerned about KKOL moving to Bainbridge Island, contact Senators Cantwell AND Murray and Representative Kilmer.

LINDA SOHLBERG

Bainbridge Island

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