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Grassroots Radio Waves
New Low Power FM stations for the Methow Valley

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted licenses to three low-power FM stations in the Methow Valley. These stations were granted after an open-window application period allowed for more stations throughout the US. Over 2,800 applications came into the FCC during the application window.

Starting January 15, the FCC began approving applications. So far they have approved and granted 908 licenses. Of those, two were granted in Twisp and one in Winthrop.

A stipulation within the low-power FM application states that all new applicants must be affiliated with a non-profit organization. Twisp will have two stations, one from St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church and the other from the American Legion Hall. The Winthrop area will have Methow Valley Radio (KTRJ).

The Methow Valley Radio will be heard on local airwaves soon, said Corrigan. The Methow Valley Radio has already ordered its 300W transmitter and will begin testing transmissions in the near future. The station’s priority is to provide emergency broadcasting services to the area.

Corrigan said that the KTRJ FM could be broadcasting within a week of getting the needed hardware. ”I am excited,” said Corrigan. ”The Methow Valley will have expanded opportunity for local grass roots broadcasting.”

Father Nicks of St. Genevieve’s Parish sees a lot of work ahead of him. ”We have the government’s permission to transmit a broadcast,” said Father Nicks. “Now all we need is the hardware and a place to put the radio tower.”

”There are a lot of things to consider,” said Nicks, ”but if we have the resources for the equipment, a consistent pool of interested people and the local talent, there are tons of possibilities.”

Nicks is considering tapping in to the global broadcasting company Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) for some content. In addition to EWTN’s services, Nicks hopes to broadcast high school sports games.

The Twisp legion hall is located close to the Methow river at one of the lowest points in town. For Tristan Gilbert, Service officer and Commander of the legion hall, (lack of) high ground is the biggest challenge.

Gilbert is trying to raise the funds needed for the radio station. He is hoping to receive legion approval to construct an 11 meter tower. With the low elevation, Gilbert hopes to have a four mile reach. ”It’d be enough to cover downtown Twisp,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert anticipates the legion station will be based on four ideals of service: national security, children and youth, veteran’s services, and Americanism. He wants to provide a venue for local musicians and encourage teens to have their own radio shows. ”I want this station to help kids and veterans and musicians in the area,” said Gilbert.

Estimated costs to construct a station and purchase all the hardware ranges from $10,000 to $20,000. Each of the granted licenses are mandated to complete the activation of their stations within 18 months.



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