Islanders yearn for radio time

Tuning a radio to a dedicated island station has long been an aspiration for many in the community.

There was hope when President Barack Obama signed the Local Community Radio Act into law on Jan. 4, but that opportunity doesn’t appear possible for Bainbridge. Engineers have assured interested citizens that a low-power FM station, one made possible through Obama’s law, won’t work because of a crowded radio spectrum due to frequencies in Seattle and Bremerton.

That isn’t stopping a handful of community and City Council members who have expressed a renewed interest in getting islanders’ voices on the airwaves. The group is embarking on an exploratory stage to ascertain what options exist.

“Many in the community are already gathering to wrestle and tease out these opportunities,” said Councilor Debbi Lester.

Lester and Councilor Barry Peters both encouraged the city to get involved in looking for a radio solution to the city’s emergency preparedness plan.

Peters said the council could contact higher government officials, even the Department of Homeland Security, to find a way to distribute information.

A radio station in Bremerton may be an option after a citizen was told about the possibility of buying a block of time for programming. The station said they are updating transmitters and might be willing to consider a community AM radio station.

Philippe Boucher began an online “Voice of Bainbridge” Internet-based radio station in July 2004, but stopped after about a year.

“There was no business model,” said Boucher. “Besides figuring out the technicality of having a station, one of the most important things to consider is who will produce the information? What organization and what model will they use?” is another model already in use featuring two Bainbridge friends who produce podcasts from the island. Their archives date back to May of 2010 and cover a broad range of topics.

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