By Stacey L. Sutton
For Peninsula Daily News
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The Friday ceremony dedicated the 155-foot tower at the John Wayne Memorial Transmission Facility on top of a 435-foot ridge off Blue Mountain Road, a site leased from the state Department of Natural Resources.
Then, power was boosted from 700 watts to 2,400 watts, said Executive Director Bob Schilling.
The boost allows the nonprofit radio station's signal to be heard in Victoria, past Port Angeles and up the Interstate 5 corridor, said Patrick Lauerman, manager of marketing and resource development.
The station has been told the signal could be heard in Bellingham.
Swift, from Newport Beach, Calif., was asked late Thursday night to replace her uncle, Ethan Wayne, at the dedication ceremony after he became ill.
Television character Gumby was on hand thanks to Lauerman, who has overseen distribution of Gumby merchandise and memorabilia.
Community leaders attending included Sequim Mayor Ken Hays, Port Angeles Mayor Cherie Kidd, Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict and Judith Morris of Port Angeles, who represented Congressman Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor. His 6th Congressional District includes the North Olympic Peninsula.
3 years to get tower
The signal and tower are the result of a three-year effort. Construction and acquisition of the tower and transmitters cost $325,000.
Thirty station supporters donated $1,000 or more each. First Federal gave the station a grant to help pay for the tower, as did the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust of Vancouver, Wash.
“Within the last month, several sponsors have already joined our group. Sponsors such as Olympic Medical Center, Swain's General Store and Nash's Organic Produce have been instrumental in our broadcast mission,” Lauerman said.
Patrick Adams of the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe conducted a blessing ceremony.
A commemorative plaque to John Wayne will be placed on the transmission building.
As the switch was thrown, the station began broadcasting John Wayne's performance of “America, Why I Love Her.”
“That was a beautiful touch,” Swift later said at a reception at the radio station at 577 W. Washington St. in Sequim.
For more information about the radio station, visit www.ksqmfm.com or phone 360-681-0000.
Stacey L. Sutton is a journalism student at Peninsula College.
Peninsula Daily News Reporter Joe Smiley contributed to this report.