Radio Vancouver getting green light

Long-silent nonprofit station teams up to bring local content to the air

By Brooks Johnson, Columbian Business Reporter

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Vancouver is bigger than many cities that have a host of their own radio stations, yet Radio Vancouver is largely silent. Hearing that dead air, one small station is seeing a big opportunity in the local spectrum.

“It’s a legit, official, nonprofit, community radio station,” said KXRW advisory board chair Susan Galaviz. “I think the community needs a media outlet like this. So many community members are so excited about this.”

KXRW will be the sister station of Portland’s XRAY.FM, which is a mix of progressive talk radio and music. When the station goes live at 99.9 FM in Vancouver, listeners will be able to pick up the Portland station’s feed, which will be interspersed with a growing offering of local content.

“Vancouver’s a little different, a little more conservative,” said Galaviz, 52, a lifelong Vancouver resident. “We don’t want to paint this as left-leaning, but as independent. We just want to get the stations to be a little less Lars Larsen (the conservative talkshow host).”

Galaviz has been getting the station organized for two years, and will have a good idea at the end of the week when the antennae can go up and the station can go live.

The team behind KXRW has raised about $10,000 and will soon start a crowdfunding effort to raise another $10,000 to invest in getting the station off the ground. Galaviz said it will cost $4,000 per year to operate the nonprofit channel.

A number of community members have already stepped up to help the station, including Robert Bolton, whose Harmony Road Music School on Northeast Mountview Street will be the source of the station’s signal.

“Topography studies show his location is right where the tower needs to go — and he said yes,” Galaviz said. “In return, we’ll do audio spots for him to promote his school.”

Vancouver has had its share of local radio in the past, including KVAN, famous for a weekly show hosted by Willie Nelson decades ago.

One of the people involved with KXRW, community activist Temple Lentz, said one of the next steps in bringing local radio back to Vancouver is recruiting volunteers.

“The reason I’m excited about it is it’s another opportunity for the community to connect with news and information at a local level,” she said. “Vancouver hasn’t had its own radio station in years, and this is a great opportunity.”

KXRW will only have a few hours of local content per week at first as the crew learns what works and how to make it work. Galaviz said the station will host community and state leaders and will be a home for Vancouver on the air.

“Community radio belongs to the community — if people want to get involved and provide content ideas, by all means,” Galaviz said. “Even though this has felt like the hard part, the true challenge will be coming up with consistent, good content.”

The station will be looking for sponsors, members, volunteers and ideas as it comes online. To learn more, email KXRWvancouver@gmail.com and visit the station’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KXRWvancouver.