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Tune Us In! Unitarian Universalist Church Seeking FM License to Launch Community Radio Station

SBJ Staff Report

Oct. 3, 2013 – A group of local radio enthusiasts is helping the Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah apply for a low-power FM (LPFM) license to create a new community radio station.

For the first time in more than 15 years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it will be accepting applications for new LPFM licenses. The 100-watt licenses have a transmission radius of approximately four miles, enough to reach downtown and much of metropolitan Savannah according to the group.

The radio enthusiasts have named the station Savannah Soundings in a nod to the “Hostess City’s” cultural diversity and creative depth, according to Vicki Weeks of Weeks Consulting in Savannah. She is also serving as lead coordinator for the effort.

“Savannah stands out as a leading thought community for the New South. We have a vibrant local arts scene, a healthy nonprofit sector, and a thriving small business community. Our local radio, however, is anything but local. It is corporate radio, with little room to shine a light on local issues, ideas and talent,” she explained.

The group sees a need for community radio that can provide a voice and visibility for Savannah’s outstanding local organizations, events, and projects that don’t receive enough airtime on commercial stations. Savannah Soundings is envisioned as a community radio station with global soul, with programming that includes a mix of music, news, and talk. They have launched a ‘Crowdrise’ campaign to fund the Phase I engineering studies and exhibits needed for the FCC application. Information on the campaign, to donate or to create a team page can be found at its Web site at http://www.crowdrise.com/savannahsoundings.

Team member Tom Kenkel urges taking action sooner rather than later. “We’re up against an early October deadline for filing the application which means we’ve got to finalize the engineering contract by mid-September.”

Commenting on the need for extensive community engagement, Weeks noted, “We definitely need a lot of supporters to help out on the funding. That’s the beauty of a crowdsourced campaign. If everyone gives just a little, you can really make things happen.”

While funding is one piece of the puzzle, the team is committed to hearing from people across a diverse range to help them identify the type of programming the local community thinks should find a home at the station. “That’s where the community survey comes in,” said team member Sarah Todd. “Almost 150 people have already taken it, but that’s only the start.”

The survey can be found either at the Crowdrise site or at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7KR5HQK.

Vicki Weeks can be reached at 912-231-2252. 

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