After six-and-a-half years of hard work on building a new radio station, a group of community activists only have a few months to start broadcasting lest they lose the license granted to them by the Federal Communications Commission.
Three years ago, Activist San Diego beat out three religious broadcasters for the rights to 89.1-FM. If all goes according to plan, the new station—KNSJ Community Radio—will install its antenna on Monument Peak in East County and go live by June.
"We're going to be largely community-affairs programming, with a lot of local music and culture," says Martin Eder, executive director of Activist San Diego. "This may not happen all on day one, because it will take a good bit of time to develop the local skills and talent."
Eder foresees everything from programs on human sexuality to animal rights, plus political debates and children's shows. Local publications such as Zenger's, East County Magazine and San Diego Troubadour are already on board to host shows. CityBeat has been approached, as well. Eder also says the station will stick to a 25-percent local-music quota. Much of the news content will be produced by volunteers.
"With people's smartphones, we believe we're going to be able to create a new kind of citizen journalist," he says. "We are going to train ourselves and train others to go and collect news and send it in. It will create a news department of people active in the community . Our fundamental mission is to create a thriving democracy through information and communication."
Currently, the station is streaming online at knsj.org. Eder doesn't think the web is enough and disagrees with the idea that radio's relevance is dwindling.
"There are going to people driving around San Diego with analog radios for the next generation," Eder says. The signal should reach all the way from Descanso to Point Loma, reaching a potential audience of 850,000.
Eder says the station needs $24,000 in equipment to get started and is currently running a crowd-funding campaign that ends on Valentine's Day. If the group can raise $9,000 by the end of the month, it will also be eligible for matching funds.