Paid Time-On: I Power KEXP

KEXP_Seattle_VolunteerIn the last 6 years, Brown Paper Tickets has donated over 400 employee hours to the local, listener-powered radio station KEXP. Employees can spend up to 40 hours a year volunteering for whatever causes they wish and KEXP is a favorite among staff. One team member gives a first-hand account of volunteering at KEXP.

My first experience with KEXP happened on a whim. It was 2012, I was in film school, and had a writing assignment due in the morning—the finalized opening scene to a script I had just begun. I had already outlined what was soon to be a truly awful, overused plot, the kind that seems genius and groundbreaking when you explain it to your cat after four cups of coffee and minimal sleep. So naturally, instead of writing, I was scrolling through Facebook.

My friend shared a live performance of the artist Grimes. When I pressed play, I heard DJ Cheryl Water’s voice for the first time, introducing the artist before she began. The performance was simple, captivating and executed completely from the ground where Grimes perched, surrounded by her instruments, a cup of coffee, and a brightly patterned rug. After watching a dozen more artists I adore perform at KEXP (thanks to their YouTube channel), it was safe to say I was hooked.

I moved to Seattle in the spring of 2016. One day, on-air, Troy Nelson mentioned that Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires were scheduled to do a free-to-the-public, in-studio session, limited to a small amount of lucky attendees. There was so much interest in the performance that they moved it into the main gathering space. KEXP played the first song I had ever heard by the infectious Charles Bradley, and I knew I had to attend. I was among a sea of people who came out to watch Charles and his Extraordinaires. He emerged in a bedazzled suit, hugging audience members before taking the stage.

The performance was truly humbling, everyone gathered in, many sat on the ground; his presence felt like an old friend. Bradley’s version of Black Sabbath’s “Changes,” that he dedicated to his late mother moved me to tears. That was the only opportunity I had to see Charles Bradley perform before he lost his battle with cancer on September 23, 2017.

Volunteering at KEXP

That same week I had the chance to give back to the station by way of volunteering, and my appreciation for everything KEXP came full circle. My coworkers and I answered phones during the Fall Fundraiser drive as part of the Brown Paper Tickets’ Paid Time-On benefit program. Fundraiser drives are key to the survival of KEXP.

The majority of KEXP’s funding (nearly 60%) comes from listeners; the remaining 40% is divided among local businesses and outside sources. As a listener-powered station, they can maintain zero commercial interruptions, and avoid narrow playlists dictated by corporate media involvement.

Volunteering_KEXP

In the last 6 years, Brown Paper Tickets has donated over 400 employee hours to KEXP. This allows passionate employees (like me) to work the fundraising drives and more unique opportunities, such as DJ assisting* and hosting station tours.

Brown Paper Tickets encourages employees to volunteer time to organizations they feel passionate about, whatever that may be. I am humbled by the opportunities I am given to volunteer at KEXP and as a KEXP amplifier. If you have ever been interested in giving back to this unique and diverse station, but don’t know where to start, keep in mind that there are many ways to power KEXP.

Check out a full list of opportunities at KEXP: Ways to Give.

*Major shout-out to Jon Hamilton, a dedicated KEXP volunteer and past Brown Paper Tickets Paid Time-On-er.

Radio >

New Neighborhood Radio Stations Popping Up in Puget Sound

Raising the 35'  mast with FM antenna attached

Raising the 35′ mast with FM antenna attached

Neighborhoods in Seattle and the Puget Sound have strong individual identities, defined and protected by their denizens. Now some neighborhoods will even have their own radio stations. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently approved 5 new Puget Sound neighborhood radio stations, and one of them, Voice of Vashon, may be on the air as early as October. In addition, 10 more moved toward obtaining FCC approval earlier this month, with the announcement of a 90-day “settlement period” for finalizing their application.

Neighborhood radio stations serving Seattle’s First Hill, Capitol Hill, Central District, International District and Downtown, as well as the communities of Vashon Island, Bothell, SeaTac and Bellingham were approved for construction. FCC permits are in process for stations serving Northwest Seattle, the University District, the Central District, Magnuson Park, Rainier Valley, Bainbridge Island, Skyway, Mercer Island, Duvall and Tacoma.

These FCC approvals constitute the creation of a new kind of “neighborhood radio” station —  broadcasting for the first time in geographically-defined communities in the nation’s largest cities. Although low-power FM radio stations (LPFM) reaching 2 to 10 miles have been around for more than a decade, licenses were awarded almost exclusively in sparsely-populated rural areas. This exponential growth in audience size and influence with a particular neighborhood, island, small town or suburb redefines the potential for these tiny-but-powerful media outlets.

In addition to a terrestrial broadcast, neighborhood stations can expand their reach by live streaming and hosting on-demand content. They will incubate local talent and have the potential to re-imagine public media. Many will be participatory and volunteer-powered, addressing the widening digital divide with low barriers to access tools and training. Ultimately, they will form a neighborhood layer of infrastructure for the public media ecosystem and emergency response.

Meet Sabrina Roach, our public media “Doer”

LPFMMap_v2_web-01_puget-sound-radio-stationsCreating and replicating this kind of community service juggernaut in large cities across the nation is what  Not-Just-For-Profit ticketing company Brown Paper Tickets had in mind when hiring public media professional Sabrina Roach as a Doer (a community change-maker) with a goal of filling every available low-power radio frequency with a qualified applicant, getting their stations built and sustainably on-air. Roach directed National Make Radio Challenge and created a Puget Sound Neighborhood Radio Cohort (PSNRC), the nation’s first support network for regional LPFM radio applicants to pool resources and foster a learning community to support these tiny-but-fierce stations.

“This group is ahead of the curve,” said Sally Kane, CEO of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. “Although we see collaborations between community broadcasters, they often happen after those stations have already formed a culture of being very independent, and by that time they can find it much harder to share resources. Puget Sound Neighborhood Radio Cohort is setting a tone from the very beginning that will make every radio station in their group stronger and more sustainable.”

Roach supports the PSNRC with free counsel and guidance to public and private resources, panels on fundraising and education on best practices in the industry. She develops relationships and shares resources offered by public agencies, private corporations and leaders in public media, community media and commercial media that could provide assistance or support to the applicants, and shares industry news, best practices and connections with PSNRC applicants.

“We’ve created a virtual neighborhood radio station incubator for cooperation, in addition to operation,” Roach said. “My work is part of where the rubber hits the road in the implementation of Brown Paper Tickets’ social mission to build stronger, healthier communities,” said Roach.

KVSH 101.9 on Vashon Island has moved quickly since getting an FCC construction permit and hopes to go on the air as early as October.  Their format will be, “All Vashon all the time,” and their motto is “Island-powered media.” With 93% of their $50,000 funding goal met, volunteers have been building as the funds came in and they are already “Raising the Tower” for their new community FM radio station. Just last week a team of volunteers climbed to the top of a giant water tank to erect the station’s mast and antenna. You can view the video on the Voice of Vashon donation page:  VoiceOfVashon.org/RaiseTheTower.

If you’d like to volunteer to help a new radio station coming to your neighborhood, email Sabrina, or access the links below to learn more.

New radio stations

Seattle University Radio / KSUB / 102.1 FM (First Hill/Capitol Hill/Central District)

 

Voice of Vashon / KVSH / 101.9 FM (Vashon Island)

 

UWave Radio at UW Bothell / no call letters yet / 104.9 FM (Bothell)

 

OneAmerica / no call letters yet / 106.5 FM (SeaTac)

 

Make.Shift / no call letters yet / 94.9 FM (Bellingham)

 

Earth On-the-Air Independent Media (University District)

 

Fulcrum Community Communications (NW Seattle)

Hollow Earth Radio (Central District)

 

Sand Point Arts & Cultural Exchange (Magnuson Park)

 

SouthEast E­ffective Development’s Rainier Valley Radio (Rainier Valley)

 

Sustainable Bainbridge (Bainbridge Island)

 

South Seattle Emerald (Skyway)

 

KMIH Booster Club (Mercer Island)

 

Fab-5 (Tacoma)

 

Radio Duvall (Duvall)

 

 

Radio >

Local Radio to Hit Seattle Neighborhood Air Waves

Waves of Puget Sound will soon crash into Seattle neighborhoods. Air waves, that is, will carry hyper-local news, music and community dialogue directly to your home sweet home.

Last October, Brown Paper Tickets publicly introduced between 12 and 15 new neighborhood radio stations that could be added to the Puget Sound FM radio dial by 2016. Join Brown Paper Tickets in helping the voice of your neighborhood build a permanent home on the public airwaves.

Fremont Solstice Parade © Jim CleghornHelp Promote Neighborhood Radio in the Solstice Parade

80,000 people are expected on June 21, 2014 to come out and enjoy the 25th annual Fremont Solstice Parade. This year, you can promote Seattle’s new neighborhood radio stations, meet other radio supporters and enjoy crowds from a new perspective. Volunteer to walk (or rollerblade) in the 2-mile parade with Puget Sound neighborhood radio station supporters as part of the Green Hat Ensemble, a fundraising float that hopes to raise $25,000 (one-third of the entire budget for producing the Fremont Solstice Parade).

24 volunteer spots are available, but going quickly. Sign up to march with the Green Hat Ensemble or call Pamela Burton at 206-601-5191, or email her at burton5308@comcast.net. You can also just show up at 1:30PM on Saturday (June 21) at Fleur De Lis Statuary (39th and Leary). Look for other supporters next to 2 big green hats.

Will Your Community be Served by a Neighborhood Radio Station?

Peruse Brown Paper Tickets’ updated list below of all local radio license applicants to see if there is a station planned for your neighborhood. Want to become part of community radio in your neighborhood? Contact Brown Paper Tickets Public Media Doer, Sabrina Roach.

Why Neighborhood Radio?

“What if you heard your neighbor’s voice on air? Or your favorite local band? Or your barista?,” said Pam Burton of Fulcrum Community Communications, the nonprofit behind the neighborhood radio station planned for North Seattle, and organizer of neighborhood radio supporters in the Fremont Solstice Parade. “Young and old alike are invited to make neighborhood radio. We want everyone to join us in sharing your voices, amplifying what matters to Ballard, Fremont, Greenwood, Phinney, Queen Anne and Magnolia.”
Read More…

Radio >

Community Radio Brainstorm: We Are Not Alone

Brainstorm1Post by Sabrina Roach, Brown Paper Tickets Public Media Doer

As director of Brown Paper Tickets’ National Make Radio Challenge, I helped as many nonprofit organizations as possible learn about the opportunity to apply for a free low-power FM radio license in 2013. This year, I’m assisting applicants in building capacity so they can successfully get on the air and start broadcasting to local communities.

I’m co-facilitating a public community brainstorm tonight, April 17, 2014, at Historic Takoma in Takoma Park, MD. We’ll talk about what’s going on nationally with low-power FM radio and Historic Takoma’s local effort to create low-power FM community radio. Even if they don’t get the radio frequency, they will have a great foundation for any kind of community media project. At the very least, they will have more of a focus on telling their own stories by making their own media.

If your organization was one of the 2,780 nonprofits, colleges and faith organizations that applied for a low-power FM (LPFM) frequency through the Federal Communications Commission last November—and especially if you are one of the 1,137 who’ve already had your application accepted by the FCC—there are many community radio stations already on the air that are happy to share their knowledge and experience with you. One of the best ways to find roughly 250 of them is to join the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. They have a listserve where people trade technical assistance and thoughts on community radio. All questions get answered either by peers or Federation staff. They also have group buys on music royalties and equipment.
Read More…

Radio >

Five Ways Low Power FM Will Power Up Public Radio

ds106-world-radio-dayWorld Radio Day is this Thursday, February 13. It’s the perfect time to talk about how Low Power FM Radio could change the public and community radio landscape in the United States. For the past three years, I’ve been putting a shoulder into low power FM (LPFM) infrastructure development. I have helped to get the word out about the opportunity nationally, assisted nonprofits with their applications, fostered relationships between applicants and identified resources to help them build. I’ve never seen so much enthusiasm for community radio, and my little public radio nerd heart is gleeful about the potential. Maybe some of the ideas are a stretch. I’m certainly showing my enthusiastic idealist colors, but World Radio Day encourages expansive thinking and big ideas. One thing’s for sure, LPFM will have an impact.

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) created World Radio Day in 2011 to annually prompt us to think about the transformative power of radio. This year their focus is gender equality. People from around the world are contributing audio and video clips in which they further the discussion about gender in radio and other ongoing structural issues like race and class.

We know we have structural issues in public media. We talk about them at our conferences and participate in trainings at our stations, but the conversation doesn’t get much past working on individual racism and an introduction to white privilege. These inequities require multipronged solutions. One small way to chip away at them is the current LPFM radio infrastructure build out.

Some numbers that illustrate how we’re doing:

Women hold less than 7% of all TV and radio station licenses.
People of color hold just over 7% of radio licenses and 3% of TV licenses.
[source: Free Press]

92.7% of journalists at commercial radio stations are white.
81.5% of journalists at non-commercial radio stations are white.
91.3% of radio news directors (commercial & non) are white.
67.3% of the work force in local radio news are male.
[source: Radio Television Digital News Association 2012 survey]

For reference, the US population is 51% female and 49% male / 72.4% white and 27.6% people of color [source: US 2010 census]
Read More…

Radio >

Mid-Week Beat: Is Radio Still Relevant in the Digital Age?

large_war-of-the-worldsThis week on the Mid-Week Beat we stray away from our usual format of featuring bands and shows to focus on radio, and more specifically Low Power FM. Radio is an important medium that is just as relevant and useful to independent musicians as it is to community groups and non-profits, even in the age of the Internet. Today, on World Radio Day, we feel it’s important to talk about some exciting developments for independent, community-based radio and to encourage all of you to support the independent radio stations in your own community. Happy World Radio Day everyone!

Every musician wants to connect with their audiences and, in the past, radio airplay has been the key to achieving that. I know some of you can remember the excitement of when you heard your favorite song come on the radio or, if your a musician, the first time you heard your own music on the radio. Younger musicians like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, have made it clear that the walls of the old school music industry are crumbling in favor of D.I.Y. online solutions, but does that mean that the power of radio has diminished?

No one who listened to Orson Welles’ famous radio play, “War of the Worlds” would have questioned the importance of radio. The realistic “theatre of the mind” made people of that day pack their bags, call the police and go into basic panic mode, because what you create in your mind can be even more powerful than anything that you see or read. Surely, radio as a medium would remain important to artists who’s work can primarily be appreciated and shared through the sense of sound… at least, as long as audiences were still tuning in.

But in the digital age, has radio outlived its relevance?

According to the United Nations, radio remains the medium that reaches the widest audience worldwide, and radio is able to connect better with communities regardless of economics or education levels. Radio can reach listeners who are engaged in other activities and tell stories in a way that resonates in a different way than other forms of media are able to. This is just as true in the world’s largest cities as it is in places without a digital communications infrastructure.
Read More…

Music >

Non-Profits: What Would You Do With Your Own Radio Station?

Today, many of us get our news from neighborhood blogs that report the goings-on in our local communities. These blogs and their popularity are indicative of how hyper-local news is effective in binding and supporting neighborhoods. Another growing source of local information are low-powered FM radio stations, which are non-commercial stations that operate at low power, for low cost, to a hyper-local community area. The popularity of hyper-local engagement has even caught the attention of the FCC, who recently approved the granting of hundreds more low-powered FM radio station licenses to local non-profits.

This provides a unique opportunity for non-profits to use the airwaves as a tool for broadcasting to their local community, and for making a difference in the world.  We encourage any of the non-profits that we work with to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

Think about it — what would your non-profit be able to accomplish with your own community radio station?

Here’s the story of the community radio station WSLR 96.5 LPFM in Sarasota, Florida. This short documentary gives you a sense of the people, passion and vision that creates community radio and the valuable contributions that stations like WSLR give to their communities. Think how great it would be to have a station like WSLR in your town or city, promoting your causes to your very own hyper-local community! This is your opportunity to make that happen.


Read More…

Radio >