Group Wants to Bring Community Radio to Tulare County

A diverse group of South Valley activists and leaders wants to bring the voices of all Tulare County residents to the airwaves, but they’re facing a tight deadline and need to raise cash quickly.

“We want to see a growing circle of local people from all walks of life and all political persuasions and all artistic interests and everything come together to create a truly community-based radio station,” said Earl Cruser, chair of South Valley Community Media (SVCM), a two-month-old nonprofit created to take control of 99.1 on the FM dial.

“We have assumed the operation of the station,” Cruser said. “The frequency was originally applied for by an organization called the South Valley Peace Center. They still officially exist and own the license. Too many of the folks in that group thought it was beyond their capability.”

Two Costly Catches

But there are a couple of expensive hurdles the group must leap to reach their goal.

“One is to find a tower location,” Cruser said. “We have an antenna on a tower in Corcoran. We were broadcasting for a while until our transmitter died.”

With a dead transmitter on their hands anyway, the group decided it would be better to relocate the tower to Tulare County, and they’re looking for a concerned citizen with lots of land to help them.

“We decided it would be best to get back on the air, preferably in the foothills east of Porterville,” Cruser said, but there’s a snag. “Usually, you rent on a tower. That’s the standard way of doing it, but we don’t have any money so we were hoping to find a farmer or somebody with land who’d let us build an antenna on their property.”

Once they find a home for their antenna, they’ll still have another gap to clear.

“The other challenge is our little transmitter died,” Cruser said. “We need a new transmitter, which is a minimum of five grand. We’re using the nonprofit arm of IndieGoGo for a crowd-funding effort.”

Anyone interested in helping with a cash contribution can find SVCM’s donations page at https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/non-commercial-community-radio–2. The group’s homepage is www.kpsv.org. Other volunteers are needed, and eventually content producers, if the group can get back its wave back into the ether.

Tick-Tock!

Unfortunately, the clock is ticking for KPSV, and they need to start broadcasting again or sign off for good.

“The goal is really to get on the air. We need bucks and we need them fast,” Cruser said. “We have a deadline of the middle of May. If we’re not on the air, we lose the license.”

Imposing the deadline is the FCC, which Cruser said has done all it can to help them reach their goal. They need $10,000, and they need it right away.

“I don’t think there’s any avoiding that fact,” he said. “If we don’t’ raise $10,000 maybe more in the next month, we’re out of business. We’ve gotten extensions and all kinds of latitude from the FCC. I think they’ve cut all of the slack they can.”

Joining Cruser on the SVCM board are Merrily Davis, Don Manro and Patricia Gallimore, Brian Newton, Carla Gerritsma, who also serves as executive director for the land conservancy group Wild Places, C-SET executive director Mary Escarsega-Fechner and Clay Leander, a consultant with Common Frequency, a group that helps local groups get community stations on the air.

True Community Radio

What they’ve imagined is something like the model used by Pacifica Radio, which broadcasts locally on KFCF 88.1 FM, yet has even more input from local listeners and content producers. It will also have no set agenda.

“They (Pacifica) have all kinds of music and interview shows produced by locals. We don’t want any content coming from other producers,” said Cruser. “It may take a while to do that. We need to have the production facilities to do that.”

In recent years, Pacifica faced a hostile takeover from outside its membership ranks. SVCM aims to avoid that with a different model of governance.

“The corporation is set up to be a membership corporation,” Cruser said. “A third of the board is elected by the members. That’s something you don’t find in other community radio.”

“South Valley Community Media board members Earl Cruser and Patricia Gallimore raise funds for a new transmitter and tower site for KPSV, a new community radio station trying to get on the air in Tulare County. The group needs to raise $10,000 by mid-May to avoid losing its broadcast license.”

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