By Calvin Men, Sentinel Correspondent
SANTA CRUZ >> Since starting the campaign in early 2017 to create an independent, local radio station, members of the group Central Coast Community Radio have raised more than a quarter million to buy a radio station license and are weeks away from closing the deal on the purchase.
After the deal is signed, it will be submitted to the FCC for approval — something expected to take 90 days to complete. Their call sign is already selected as KSQD and is expected to be broadcasted on 90.7 FM. But the campaign doesn’t stop there.
“There’s a lot more than simply buying the license,” said Linda Burman-Hall, a member of the steering committee.
The committee is looking to raise an additional $80,000 to fund the first year of operations, finish the bylaws of the soon-to-be incorporated nonprofit and create a slate of programming to resonate with listeners.
Spearheading the efforts are a small group that have managed everything from organizing community meetings to solicit ideas to finding a transmitter space to creating a financial plan. That financial viability is higher on the committee’s list of things to check off.
Referring to it as the second phase of fundraising, the additional funds would go toward rent and hiring staffers to run the operations. The station is also looking for volunteers to help with fundraising, outreach and other activities.
Their overhead also includes creating a studio space in the location they ultimately choose. But soliciting donations can only go so far and organizers are selling underwriting contracts for the show.
Beyond the logistics of securing equipment and paying the bills, organizers are also taking suggestions for programming. At the end of February, they put out a call to their mailing list of more than 1,400 people soliciting proposals for what they’d like to hear on air.
The vision for the station is keyed in on the local issues.
“We want a diverse influx of programs from the community, for the community and by the community,” said Mathilde Rand, another member of the committee.
In the wake of KUSP going dark, a gap in local radio news was created, according to Mathilde.“I miss my local programming,” she said. “I miss my local people on the radio. People I can see in the streets or movie theater. A big part of our mission is to build community.”
In its waning years, KUSP deferred to a mix of local shows and syndicated programming from National Public Radio. But it competed against the likes of KAZU in Monterey County and KQED in the Bay Area.
As they go back to the drawing board for how to create meaningful shows, they’re aiming to bring back popular shows from KUSP and blend it with programs that spotlight community issues.
“I like NPR as well as many other people,” Burman-Hall said. “But I don’t think that it’s appropriate that we need more of what we already have. We need local debate. Local news. Access to local issues as explained on various sides from people involved in the drama of it unfolding.”
That is something they’re looking to incorporate directly into the bylaws of Natural Bridges Media, the anticipated name of the nonprofit.
But the most asked question isn’t about programming or logistics, it’s when are they going to start.
The answer is some time in the middle of June, according to Rand.
But she and other committee members said until that happens, they’re juggling every other aspect of starting a radio station.
“We’re simply identifying the long-term as something that is part of our long-range planning,” Burman-Hall said. “But right now, it’s not difficult to concentrate on the logistics of funding the first year. Because that’s what’s paramount in our minds.”
SUGGEST A SHOW
What: Central Coast Community Radio looks to community for programming suggestions.
When: Program proposals should be made no later than May 1.