Presenting... the Northwest Community Radio Network

On Sunday, May 22, some of our region's most creative and inspiring community radio producers met at Western Washington University in Bellingham to discuss an exciting idea whose time appears to have come: the creation of a regional community radio network, linking noncommercial stations from Alaska to Oregon.

The Bellingham meeting was just a conversation-starter to assess whether there was broad interest in the idea of a voluntary network which could facilitate content-sharing, collaborative training programs, mentoring of new stations, and which could help build a broad constituency around creating and supporting independent media and keeping track of media policy issues affecting community radio.

Over 25 people responded to the invitation, issued by Reclaim the Media and KBCS, traveling to Bellingham from as far away as Moscow, ID and Ashland, OR. Several stations and organizations from BC were represented as well. Other stations expressed interest in the idea, but were unable to attend the Sunday morning meeting (it's a big region—at one station we contacted in northern Alaska, staff travel to their studios by snowmobile!), plus there are many more who we expect will become interested as the network project takes more of a shape.

In Bellingham we had great discussions about the various uses people could already see for a regional network - notes will be posted on the RTM site as soon as they're compiled. Most significantly, we agreed formally to form a network - the Northwest Community Radio Network. Our first collective action will be a collaborative response to the threat faced by the Spokane LPFM station KYRS, which is facing the possible loss of its frequency to an expanding commercial station from Sand Point, ID (see RTM front page for details).

Finally, we made tentative plans to hold additional meetings over the next several months to continue to build plans to resource and launch our network. Locations discussed for future meetings include Vancouver, Portland and Spokane--with the expectation that folks might be willing to trek to the one meeting closest to them. Given the great importance and proliferation of low-power and community radio in Alaska, and the complications of travel to BC and the lower 48, an Anchorage or Juneau meeting also seems like a good idea. Look for the page to provide a networking hub for our nascent network. We're on the move!

Stations and organizations represented at this initial meeting: KBCS Bellevue/Seattle, Vancouver Coop Radio, KFRP/Free Radio Moscow, KSVR Mt. Vernon (including the First Peoples' program NAMAPAHH), KUGS Bellingham, CJSF Burnaby, KMRE Bellingham, Free Radio Olympia, KSKQ Ashland, Community Media Bellingham, the Canadian National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA), Womens Independent News Gathering Service (WINGS), AMARC, and Reclaim the Media.

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