Nonprofit radio KSQM extends its reach with signal boost today
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KSQM disc jockey Doris Cosman and Bob Schilling, the stationís executive director, chat in the studio booth as the station prepares for its increased signal. -- Photo by Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– Starting today, the radio signal for KSQM 91.5 FM will beam its sounds over a much broader area than ever before from its recently erected transmission tower.

“We’re coming,” said Bob Schilling, executive director of the nonprofit radio station.

The station is set to broadcast its last 700-watt transmission at 8 this morning before it shuts down to make the switch.

When KSQM comes back on the air, likely by this evening, it will be at a strength of 1,200 watts.

Two weeks ago, KSQM erected a new 155-foot tower to hold transmitters on top of a 435-foot ridge off Blue Mountain Road, a site that the station is leasing from the state Department of Natural Resources.

With a taller tower and a stronger signal, the station and its 25 disc jockeys will be heard as far away as Island and San Juan counties and into the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

KSQM has been permitted to put out a 2,400-watt signal, Schilling said.

Federal Communications Commission standards, though, require the station to implement the power increase in two phases.

The FCC will review the impacts and efficiency of the 1,200-watt signal before permitting the station to push the signal to the full 2,400 watts.

Schilling said the signal will reach the same broadcast area at 1,200 watts but will be clearer when fully boosted.

During today’s switchover, the KSQM feed will continue to stream online at www.ksqmfm.com.

“I think that’s a great time for those who don’t already know to figure out how to get us online,” Schilling said.

“It’s a real useful way to keep in touch if there was ever an emergency.”

The signal and tower are the result of a three-year effort to increase the KSQM presence.

Construction and acquisition of the tower and transmitters cost $325,000.

Donations and community fundraisers have provided the station with all but about $125,000 of that, Schilling said.

Thirty backers of the station entered its “Celebrity Circle” by donating $1,000 or more to the tower project.

First Federal gave the station a grant to help pay for the tower, as did the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust of Vancouver, Wash.

“This tower has been a community effort, and we designed it to be a real asset for the whole community,” Schilling said.

In addition to the radio signal, emergency responders such as the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office will have transmitters posted on the tower.

The station also plans to lease space on the tower to other telecommunications companies.

And the tower will be home to the KSQM “Massey Cam,” Schilling said.

Announcer Bob Massey donated a camera that can be pointed, tilted and zoomed remotely from atop the tower.

Schilling said the “Massey Cam” will allow the station to get video and pictures of Hurricane Ridge, U.S. Highway 101 and even the lights of Victoria.

It also could be used to help spot forest fires in the Olympic foothills, Schilling said.

For more information about the radio station, visit www.ksqmfm.com or phone 360-681-0000.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 22. 2013 7:17PM
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