VoV to Apply for FM License

Just Around the Corner: Applying for a Community FM Station

All things Voice of Vashon began with the dream of a community radio station. Now, we’re about to try once again to see that dream through. Voice of Vashon will file an application for an FM station, the second application since we began 14 years ago.

A lot happened on the way, through all those years of persistence. A 24/7/365 emergency alert service. A web radio station. A public access cable television station. And, soon, it will once again be up to the Federal Communications Commission to decide if Vashon has its own FM radio station.

Gathering signatures at Festival
Photo by Tom Nicolino

There’s no doubt the community supports the idea! During Strawberry Festival weekend, in the span of just 16 hours, Voice of Vashon volunteers collected over 1,500 signatures on a petition to the FCC in support of the FM radio station application.
“This effort has come such a long way since we got started,” chuckled Jeff Hoyt, one of the pioneers at Voice of Vashon whose voice is heard all over the country as he now makes his living as a professional announcer for hire on commercials and videos. “Who would ever have believed when we began that we would have the emergency alert service and a TV station and very soon the whole media network only a click away on the new website.”
The first license attempt was born in 1999 when the late Bill Morosoff and Voice of Vashon’s Steve Allen began the process. A community group including Bill Wood, Jeff Hoyt, Susan McCabe and many other volunteers pulled together when initial studies made it seem that a community FM radio station might be possible. Sadly, the FCC rejected Vashon for a radio station because the old FCC rules made it extremely difficult to find a clear frequency on the dial. This new license application has a much better chance of success because the new rules have been loosed to allow more community radio stations on the air, especially in urban areas like the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area.

“We have a lot more hope for getting a license this time because the new rules are less strict,” says Steve Allen, a veteran broadcast engineer. “Also, the FCC has denied hundreds of applications for so-called translator stations that re-broadcast a single station over a wide area but suck up frequencies that might be used by small rural communities like ours.”

The cost of the engineering studies needed for the license application has been covered by $2,200 in community donations gathered at Strawberry Festival, combined with grant funding from Puget Sound Energy. The engineering studies are needed to comply with FCC rules that require proof that the Island’s community radio station will not interfere with stations on the mainland.

VoV Community Outreach Coordinator Susan McCabe has been working all year, gathering endorsements for the FM station application from Vashon’s state and national legislators as well as many Island organizations.

The grant from Puget Sound Energy also includes other funding to expand distribution of the Voice of Vashon emergency alert service via the organization’s new website and the VoV television station on cable channel 21.