Teaching Radio
5:52 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Group Wants To Start Low-Power Radio Station In Ballard

Correction 9/9/2013: A previous version of this story said this year would be the first time that the Federal Communications Commission would issue low-power licenses in urban areas. The FCC started issuing these licenses under a program that launched in 2000. Also, the original version of this story said the community meeting would be held on Friday, 9/6. That is also inaccurate, the meeting will be held Monday 9/9/13. We regret the errors. 

A group in Ballard is meeting Friday to discuss plans for a low-power FM radio station — a small-scale station that broadcasts in a radius of about three miles.

The group is headed by Ballard High School physics teacher Eric Muhs, who plans to get both his students and the larger community involved. He’s still toying with a name, but has come up with KBFG, which stands for Ballard-Fremont-Greenwood. He envisions a mixture of music and news, with the emphasis on hyperlocal programming.

The Federal Communications Commission started giving out the low-power FM licenses in 2000. The latest application window opens October 15, and the application is free, as are the licenses. However, only about eight stations will be allowed to be licensed in the city.

Muhs is passionate about both radio and physics and hopes to see that enthusiasm spread to his students. “I know that it can be a really powerful development opportunity for my students," he said. "And there’s some small minority of them that, put them in a radio station and give them a chance to do some programming, and they are off.”

Muhs is no stranger to radio; not only has he hosted shows over the years for various stations, he even set up his own low-power station several years ago with a group of students in California.

“There is something really beautiful about turning on your radio and just picking up information right out of the air. And that still works for people,” Muhs said, sitting in his classroom at Ballard High School. “So this radio station idea that I have, it’s not just a radio station, but it actually is a part of a larger community and helps develop the community, in the same way that My Ballard does. People share a lot of information that is just not going to appear in the papers.”

Muhs will be hosting a meeting Monday evening with Sabrina Roach from Brown Paper Tickets to get organized for the application deadline.