Thursday, April 18, 2024

KOHO 101.1 FM license transfer marks new era for community radio in Wenatchee Valley

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LEAVENWORTH - Northwest Public Broadcasting (NWPB) and Sleeping Lady Foundation recently announced a significant in-kind gift and grant to NWPB.

The gift includes the FCC license for KOHO 101.1 FM, which covers a large footprint in the Wenatchee Valley and surrounding areas. The gift also provides studio equipment, broadcast equipment, tower facilities, a long-term, low-cost lease for studio and office space in Wenatchee, and a seed grant to allow NWPB to explore, develop, and implement local programming options. This investment was completed on Dec. 21, 2023, with the official FCC approval of the transfer of the license.

NWPB is a community service of the Edward R. Murrow College at Washington State University and works closely with Murrow students, providing them real-world experience working for a news organization. Bruce Pinkleton, dean of the Murrow College, expressed his enthusiasm about the latest development for NWPB.

“This gift will allow us to serve the residents of Wenatchee and the surrounding areas with more high-quality programming more consistently—a win for those living in the region and for NWPB,” he said.

The gift from the Sleeping Lady Foundation enables NWPB to complement its news and classical music/news services already serving the Wenatchee area through expanded distribution of its KJEM Jazz service and the addition of a local host and program director. At a listening session sponsored by NWPB in Wenatchee last spring, the overwhelming message was the need for community radio—local programming that informs, educates, and entertains. NWPB is planning new programming and content for this spring to meet demand.

The foundation is making this award in the name of Harriet Bullitt, who has a long history in broadcasting. Bullitt’s mother, Dorothy, was a pioneer, building King Broadcasting into a major player in TV and radio up and down the West Coast. Harriet Bullitt established Icicle Broadcasting, a group of four am/fm stations serving a large swath of North Central Washington for over fifteen years.

Beth Stipe, president of the Sleeping Lady Foundation Board of Directors, notes: “NWPB holds strong values that align beautifully with the goals of Sleeping Lady Foundation—to inspire and educate citizens to boldly enhance our communities. Sleeping Lady Foundation is immensely excited to partner with NWPB to ensure Harriet Bullitt’s passion and commitment to local media and community radio forever remain a part of life in North Central Washington.”

Cara Williams Fry, general manager of NWPB, said the station is excited to expand its content offerings and continue to serve the long-time listeners and supporters in Wenatchee.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with the board members of the Sleeping Lady Foundation,” said Williams Fry. “They put community first in all our conversations, and our missions align. This gift allows NWPB staff to expand its content offerings and to create hyper-local content to serve the long-time listeners and supporters in Wenatchee.”

The Board of Sleeping Lady Foundation began searching for a partner to build on and preserve Harriet’s KOHO legacy in 2022. The partnership with NWPB began in April 2022 with a program and services agreement, where NWPB broadcasted their KJEM student-run jazz programming originating in Pullman. Soon, it became clear that the partnership could blossom into exactly the kind of base for community radio, alternative genres, like jazz, that aren’t offered anywhere else, and of course, local news, events, and talent.

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