Put your money where your microphone is

KRFY Panhandle Community Radio to host membership drive

By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Reader Staff

In a time when North Idahoans are more conscious than ever of supporting locals, it’s a perfect moment to be reminded about one of the most local resources of all: community radio.

In Sandpoint, that’s 88.5 KRFY Panhandle Community Radio  — available on local airwaves at 88.5 FM, or always online on the krfy.org livestream.

“Community radio is made by that community and designed to serve that community,” said Associate Station Manager Jack Peterson. “KRFY isn’t like any other radio station in the country.”

Students from Forrest M. Bird Charter Schools get a tour of the KRFY studio from Associate Station Manager Jack Peterson, far right. Courtesy photo.

For more than a decade, KRFY has been dedicated to offering up news — both local and syndicated — as well as music and other programming meant to give listeners a sense of their place in the world, both at home and within the larger national (and international) context.

“The beauty of a broadcast signal is that everybody can get it, and everybody can get it for free,” Peterson said — but that’s not to say that appreciative listeners can’t pitch in every now and then.

KRFY will host a membership drive Monday, June 5 through Saturday, June 10, all in an effort to bring more community-minded radio enthusiasts into the fold. A gift of any size will entitle the donor to a KRFY membership.

To cap off the drive, Peterson said KRFY will set up a mobile studio at the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint (110 Main St.) on Saturday, June 10 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and welcome passersby to get involved.

“If they want to, they can become members of the station by donating, or they can just watch live radio happen,” Peterson said.

KRFY depends on donations to cover operational costs, which experienced a spike last year when the station was forced to relocate its broadcast antenna after the tower where it was previously located had to be removed. The signal relocation cost around $18,000, which KRFY is still working to recoup.

“We are realizing an even better and wider broadcast signal since the move to the new tower,” Station Manager Suzy Prez told the Reader in April.

Aside from donating and becoming station members, locals can also get involved by volunteering at the station. Those interested in hosting their own program can attend a training session later this summer, while those less eager to share their radio voices can offer up other talents.

“A lot of people like to just volunteer for the station without being on air,” Peterson said. “At least half of the volunteers for the station are never in front of a microphone.”

However, for those with something to share, community radio might just be the perfect place. Peterson said he would bet that nearly all active local nonprofits have had the chance to share their missions on KRFY over the years. Local musicians have broadened their audiences thanks to the station. All in all, Peterson said community radio should feel like a place for everyone.

“I love putting people on the air who might never otherwise have that chance,” he said.

Those interested in becoming a member of 88.5 KRFY can do so by donating at krfy.org, calling 208-265-2992 or sending a contribution to KRFY 88.5 Panhandle Community Radio, P.O. Box 2465, Sandpoint, ID 83864. To inquire about volunteering — on or off the air — email [email protected].

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