A new radio-cell tower disguised as a fir tree went up and live earlier this year atop Dungeness Heights and hosts new FM station 104.9 KZQM and expands service for KONP 1450 AM news radio as 101.7 FM. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

A new radio-cell tower disguised as a fir tree went up and live earlier this year atop Dungeness Heights and hosts new FM station 104.9 KZQM and expands service for KONP 1450 AM news radio as 101.7 FM. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Rock FM station KZQM to launch in Sequim this May

SEQUIM — Whether you prefer The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival or Devo, a new radio station planned in Sequim might have your favorite playlist set to air.

Owners and administrators for KZQM 104.9 FM recently announced plans to launch the station in May and play classic rock music from the 1960s to the 1980s.

The new station is just one of a few changes for Radio Pacific, Inc., the parent company of the new station along with KONP 1450 AM and KSTI 102.1 FM.

Majority owner Brown Maloney, General Manager Todd Ortloff and Business Manager Sue Ellen Riesau said they plan to switch Port Angeles’ KSTI from a soft rock station to country and rebrand it The Strait.

Riesau said country music has a big following in Western Washington and there’s no country music station on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Maloney said the station will change formats tentatively on Monday, April 2, and about six weeks later, around May 14, KZQM 104.9, also called The Z104.9, will launch.

Currently, KSTI can be heard from western Port Angeles to Carlsborg and parts of Sequim, Maloney said.

Thanks to a new setup, Sequim listeners can now hear Port Angeles’ KONP 1450 AM via a new FM station, too.

Prior to a 150 foot radio-cell tower going up in Dungeness earlier this year, Radio Pacific Inc.’s owners purchased an FM repeater station from the Federal Communications Commission that allows KONP to broadcast simultaneously on 1450 AM and 101.7 FM.

“You could drive on US Highway 101 and stay on the same station from Port Angeles to Sequim,” Maloney said.

“You’re not going to lose it. You will be able to go all the way to the Clallam/Jefferson County line.”

KONP’s AM station currently reaches to parts of Sequim, similarly to KSTI, but the FM station will reach from western Port Angeles to the Diamond Point area.

In Sequim, listeners can now pick up the FM rebroadcast station, which features, news, syndicated talk shows such as Rush Limbaugh and Dave Ramsey, and live Seattle Mariners and Seahawks games.

Radio growth

“Sequim has never been served so strong with radio before,” Maloney said.

KZQM and KONP join KSQM 91.5 FM, a nonprofit, community-led station, but Riesau and Maloney said they are not in competition with each other.

“I don’t want to take anything away from KSQM,” Maloney said.

“We want people listening to radio. It will be different programming. If you’re listening to KSQM, great. If you’re listening to KZQM, great.”

Maloney said he wasn’t anticipating starting a new FM station but the FCC offered the chance to bid on the new station.

“Another station was coming whether or not we bid,” Maloney said. “If we didn’t, someone else would have.”

Riesau, also the Sequim Gazette’s former publisher, said they are seeing a growing opportunity for radio in the area.

“The canopy is growing,” she said. “Now we can do things of interest for the whole county.”

Expanded cell service

The new radio station offerings are made possible by a new radio-cell tower in Sequim atop Brigadoon Boulevard in the housing community Dungeness Heights.

The tower has composite plastic and fiberglass branches in an attempt to disguise it as a fir tree.

It hosts spots for three wireless phone carriers with two of the three accounted for so far.

Project consultant Bryon Gunnerson said Verizon Wireless has fully installed its equipment and could be fully operational in anywhere from a few weeks to up to two months.

T-Mobile has also signed on, he said, and is readying permitting.

Gunnerson he’s been in discussions with AT&T and Sprint for months but it’s undetermined who will sign on and how long it’ll take.

Carriers that do sign on will increase wireless signals within a 4-mile radius of the tower and better penetrate homes, he said.

Clallam County Fire District 3 has signed on to increase its radio frequency in Dungeness through the tower and Clallam County Sheriff’s Department looks to install similar infrastructure, Maloney said.

Lawsuits against the tower’s owners are pending.

The Dungeness Heights Homeowners Association protested an array of issues with the tower, including its height, safety and effect on property values.

Their efforts were denied in Clallam County courts. Gunnerson said the homeowners association’s two lawsuits have not been scheduled in the Court of Appeals. They challenge the conditional use permit and variance for the tower and its building permit.

More information on the new radio station and Radio Power, Inc.’s changes will be available at the Clallam County Home and Lifestyle Show sponsored by KONP at Port Angeles High School on March 10-11.

________

Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

A new radio-cell tower disguised as a fir tree went up earlier this year atop a hill near Dungeness Community Church. The tower hosts a new classic rock FM station, 104.9 KZQM, and expands service for KONP 1450 AM news radio as 101.7 FM. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

A new radio-cell tower disguised as a fir tree went up earlier this year atop a hill near Dungeness Community Church. The tower hosts a new classic rock FM station, 104.9 KZQM, and expands service for KONP 1450 AM news radio as 101.7 FM. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

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