NWCRN: The story so far...

What's the deal with the Northwest Community Radio Network?

After an initial planning meeting in spring 2005 (see below), various station representatives and media activists around the northwest have continued thinking and talking about collective next steps toward building a network that can support our region's local, nonprofit radio stations in doing better what we already do well, and strengthening the sphere of people-powered community radio. We contacted and surveyed the needs of stations from Alaska, BC, Washington, Idaho and Oregon, and established a (low activity) organizing email list (signup at left).

Now we're planning for a next wave of activity in 2006. This April, we'll launch a stand-alone website at www.nwcommunityradio.org, as a place to highlight great radio in our region and federal policy battles concerning Low-Power FM, payola, media ownership consolidation and other issues pertinent to community radio broadcasters and aficionados. Our site launch will take place in conjunction with the National Federation of Community Broadcasters annual conference in Portland, April 19-22. If you're not coming, be sure to check out the new site.

Later in the summer and fall, things will really start to bubble, with two significant events coming up. First, we look forward to collaborating with the Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN) and our organizational partner Prometheus Radio Project for a LPFM radio barnraising in Woodburn, Oregon (August 18-20; more info here). PCUN is a union representing largely Spanish-speaking farmworkers in the Willamette valley and advocating for immigrants' rights. Their radio station will be an incredible addition to that community and to our region's radio landscape. [For more on Prometheus' previous Northwest barnraising at KYRS Spokane, read here or listen here.]

Finally, this Sept 15-17 we're looking forward to hosting our first regional community radio summit--bringing together community radio producers from across the region for a weekend of broad discussions and deep organizing aimed at strengthening our connections and growing community radio's power in the northwest. Location and programming TBD--we'll announce more information this summer Conference organizing partners include Reclaim the Media, the Future of Music Coalition, and the Prometheus Radio Project.

Northwest Community Radio Network: envisioning the future of great radio in our region

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. Read on for details.

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.

This is Only the Beginning

Our May 22 meeting in Bellingham is only our first step imagining what we might create together. As a next step, Reclaim the Media and KBCS are preparing to survey each commmunity and college station in the region, both to invite them into the organizing process and to identify our shared capacity and needs. We're planning to hold more regional meetings like the one in Bellingham--suggested locations include Vancouver, Spokane, Portland and Anchorage. finally, plans are underway to hold a larger conference for NW community radio folks in spring 2006. We hope you can join us at one or more of these meetings!

For additional information, contact Karen Toering 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