Envisioning the future of great radio in the Northwest

Community radio: we’re not Clear Channel; we’re not NPR. Our broadcasts, though local and ephemeral, are the wild beating heart of North American radio today. But what if we formed a network of our own - a grassroots, cooperative network of community stations in our region?

Stations across our region are organizing to help each other make great(er) radio. On May 22, 2005, Reclaim the Media and KBCS hosted an initial planning meeting at Western Washington University in Bellingham. Community and college radio broadcasters came together from as far away from Ashland, OR, Moscow, ID and Vancouver, BC to brainstorm about the possibilities of working together; by the end of the day we made it official: forming together the Northwest Community Radio Network.

Organizing a Regional Community Radio Network

The region which spans from Oregon to Alaska is home to dozens of noncommercial fm, am and low power radio stations. Our missions and programming vary widely - but all of us provide something unique to our local communities, and we all share an "alternative" or "outsider" status on the radio dial. Still, collaborations between our stations are relatively rare, and sustained relationships are almost unknown.

A growing number of producers, station managers and media activists are getting involved as we make plans for a network connecting Northwest community radio stations. We invite you to join in creating this network. Our initial goals include sharing regional programming, pooling technical resources; informing each other and our listeners about media policy issues affecting community radio in the US and Canada, and promoting a dynamic, regional cultural identity, independent of commercial broadcasting.

Low Power FM Mentoring

A regional network would be particularly useful to the many Low-Power FM stations continuing to pop up around the region. These stations often need special help gettting on the air, maintaining an active programming schedule and reaching out to their local communities. Taking Prometheus Radio Project's "barnraising" model a step further, we envision mentoring relationships matching up established community stations with new LPFMs.

Media Democracy Campaigns

This is a crucial time for media policy debates which concern community radio broadcasters - and our listeners. Important public policy decisions will soon be made about LPFM, media ownership rules, broadcast indecency rules, copyright, payola, digital broadcasting and Internet access. Our listeners form a potentially powerful democratic constituency for democratic media; a network could help us help them stay informed.

For additional information, contact Jonathan Lawson at Reclaim the Media
or Peter Graff at KBCS. If you're a college or community radio producer, station manager or media activist in the Northwest, please sign up on our email list for updates and discussion.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey