KMUZ: On the Air Since Dec. 2011

It’s been a long and winding road for the mid-Valley’s community radio station. Often described as the “little station that could” (and did!), KMUZ has grown into a resource you can rely on for information and entertainment that reflects our identity. Here’s a brief timeline of our journey and photos of events and milestones to prove it.

Birth of a Station

Winter 2004 – Karen Holman, Willamette University chemistry professor, combs FCC website for available frequencies.

May 2005 – Prometheus Radio meets with Holman; Rally held at Willamette University to drum up interest in community radio.

2006 – Fall City frequency found (91.9FM) but lost to existing station expanding. “Inkling of hope” – 88.5 FM available in Turner, but signal can’t reach Salem. Holman decides to apply; sees it as “foothold”.

2007 – “Umbrella” nonprofit agrees to apply for license – Salem Folklore Community (SFC). Holman joins SFC & heads “Radio Project”.

Aug 2008 – SFC Radio Project receives construction permit to erect tower in Turner. Yay!!! Must be on air in 3 years. Uh oh. Now what? Fundraising begins. Neil Gladstone event brings in $1,600.

Spring / Summer 2009 – Radio Rally at Grand Theatre – over 100 people attend. Key volunteers emerge. Fundraiser at Venti’s Café, raises $1,000. First Annual KMUZ Back Yard Bash raises $800.

Fall 2009 – Community meetings held weekly at ClockWorks in downtown Salem. More volunteers emerge. Big community event held at Grand Ballroom to announce plans for station. Jeanine Renne works on federal NTIA grant to fund construction of station.

Winter 2010 – Weekly community noon meetings at Clockworks continue. Dedicated small group emerges to develop strategy to fund & build station. Small group meets every Monday evening.

Spring 2010 – Dave Hammock, former general manager of many community radio stations, comes on scene. Things get serious.

Sudden loss of planned transmitter site requires finding a new one…that MUST be on limited section of Wipper Hill near Turner. Engineers get busy.

Spring 2010 – Federal Government eliminates NTIA program that funds noncommercial radio stations capital projects. Big blow to KMUZ and other noncom stations.

Fall 2010 – Local attorney Carl Crowell offers free space in his office suite for studio. Willamette Heritage Center is KMUZ’s first home. New site for tower secured.

Spring 2011 – Vicki Darden organizes April “Beggars Ball” – first big community event bringing together nonprofits, businesses and bands. More “good will” raised than money.


Less than 3 months to go…

Summer 2011 – Max Marbles and Melanie Zermer train first crop of volunteer program hosts. Funding for antenna still not secured. Board meets to decide whether to press on. Board unanimously votes YES!

August 2011 – Radio Project asks Salem City Council for $13,000 for antenna. 75 people show up in support. Council denies request. Anonymous donor funds antenna. Spirt Mt. grant funds Emergency Alert System (EAS).

August 11, 2011 – KMUZ goes on the air with temporary set up! Meets FCC deadline! First song sung acapella by Holman’s daughter Corina – “Fireflies” by Owl City. Station broadcasts for 10 days out of purple van on top Wipper Hill, then shuts down to construct permanent tower. KMUZ webstreams until December.

November 2011 – KMUZ Radio Project becomes its own nonprofit – Willamette Information, News & Entertainment Services (WINES). Founding board members: Karen Holman (president), Dave Hammock (Treasurer), Melanie Zermer (Secretary), Vicki Darden, Jeanine Renne, & Tim Patterson. John Gear is WINES’ attorney.

December 17, 2011: KMUZ broadcasts from its studio in Willamette Heritage Center with its permanent tower in place. Many thanks to Dave Hammock, funders and the volunteers who made this happen!

January 2012: Flooding from Mill Creek forces KMUZ to temporarily move studio to Tim Patterson’s basement. Continue to broadcast, providing emergency information to the Turner and Polk County areas.

March 2012: Move studio to 245 Division St. NE – current location.

April 2012: Old donated transmitter blows up. KMUZ stays on air with transmitter loaned by All Classical. Replacement transmitter funded by Samuel S. Johnson Foundation.

May 2012: Voted best radio station in Mid-Valley by SJ Readers.

May 2012: First Pledge Drive. Raised $7,630. Goal!

Other Mile Stones

Winter 2013/2014: Wheatstone R-60 Control Board donated to KMUZ by All Classical of Portland. New control room built around it.

January 2015: KMUZ gets translator on Prospect Hill – reaches Salem & Keizer at 100.7 FM. Marion County grant supported project.

2016: Grants from Autzen Foundation and Marion County fund generator at the transmitter site on Wipper Hill. Generator installed.

2016: Awarded Media of the Year in 2016 by Oregon Education Association.

Looking Into the Future

  • Strengthen our 32 watt signal to enable better reception.
  • Finish our emergency generator project in the studio.
  • Double operating expenses to hire one FTE.