History of VoV

Like many great ideas, Voice of Vashon was born at a kitchen table over multiple cups of coffee. It was 1999. Bill Clinton was president. The dotcom industry was booming. And Vashon, an isolated haven of talented souls, just happened to also be home to a plethora of under-employed broadcast engineers and radio aficionados.

At the table were Steve Allen, an Islander who knew the ins and outs of the technology, and Bill Morosoff, a retired radio guy, a pair later joined by Lori Gustafson who had a passion to get a radio station for Vashon.

The original VoV board and volunteers included Bill Wood, Lori Gustafson, Jeanne Dougherty, Steve Allen, Jeff Hoyt, Steven Holland Chang, Bill Morosoff, Susan Gleason, Bob Moses, Susan McCabe, Hawk Jones, Michael Golen-Johnson and others.


The dream was to create a small and very local FM radio station, a venue for community news, music and information and an incubator for Vashon talent. It’s still the dream today, after one run at an FM license and a second one in the works. But in those intervening years, in between the gallant efforts to acquire the rights to a radio signal, something else happened: A community-driven, locally inspired media resource organization was born.

Marc Pease, an Islander active in the community, saw an opportunity and got to work. He and VoV volunteer Dan Schueler got busy lobbying county officials to secure a public access channel for Vashon as part of the county’s contract with Comcast. They were successful, and Channel 21, VoV’s TV station, was born.

The Voice of Vashon we know today developed organically. After they filed their first application for an FM license, the small VoV crew decided to launch their dream online – an interim step, or so they thought at the time, while they waited and worked for that coveted FM license. This is when VoV started its first real radio show – Morning Scramble, a Vashon-inspired mix of music and talk.

In 2002, the FCC rejected VoV’s bid for a license, and the team briefly considered folding their tent. Instead, they decided to continue to work on their web-based radio programming, featuring shows like Bill Wood’s The Jazz Guy, while waiting for the next chance to apply for an FM license and seizing every opportunity that came their way. The next big one arrived in 2004, when King County began renegotiating its cable contract with Comcast. Dan Schueler, an Islander active in the community, saw an opportunity and got to work, lobbying county officials to secure a public access channel for Vashon as part of the county’s contract with Comcast. He was successful, and Channel 21, VoV’s TV station, was born.

A few years later, Islander Rick Wallace came up with what turned out to be VoV’s next big idea – a traveler’s information service (or TIS). After the disastrous 2006 windstorm, Wallace and others in Vashon’s preparedness movement were looking for ways to keep the community better informed during emergency conditions. In an Internet search, Wallace discovered TIS, a type of FCC license, and learned communities around the country were using such stations for emergency alerts. He called Hoyt with the news: “How would you like to have a radio station?” There were only two caveats, Wallace told Hoyt: No music and no commercials. It wasn’t the FM station Hoyt and others had dreamed of, but it was still a significant and exciting opportunity and another milestone along their path. The community rallied around the idea. VashonBePrepared and Vashon Rotary helped to fund it, organizing a sold-out Michelle Shocked concert at the movie theater and a disaster-themed sock hop. And today, 1650AM, VoV’s TIS, is the organization’s signature accomplishment, considered by many VoV’s greatest contribution to the community.

Now, when an emergency strikes, the VoV crew takes to the airwaves, issuing bulletins about closed roads, power outages and downed trees. The service has expanded to VashonALL email, Facebook and streaming on the Web. Soon, it will also be on Channel 21.  VoV volunteers also offer other kinds of information on 1650AM – ferry delays, alerts when a person goes missing and helpful tips for visitors. And they sometimes use the station for important interviews: Not long ago, Hoyt and Wallace aired a lively discussion with David Moseley, the head of Washington State Ferries, on 1650AM.

This tenacious crew did not sit back and wait for an FM license. They featured more programs than ever on their website, including high school drama, sports broadcasts and community events. Bill Wood recently logged his 300th show as The Jazz Guy. And the team is using the latest technologies to enable other Islanders to contribute music, videos and programs, developments that are giving meaning to VoV’s tagline: “Island-powered media.”

VoV again applied for an FM license in 2014, the group was successful this time and KVSH 101.9FM went on the air October 13, 2014.