Truckee radio: on the air

Renee Shadforth

A local operator may not own it, but Truckee now has its own radio station.

After a bidding war in the Federal Communications Commission for KTKE 101.5 FM, Truckster Broadcasting, Inc. outbid Sierra Public Media for the license and rights to the frequency for a reported $275,000.

“The whole process with the FCC drove up the price,” said Gary McNally, a co-founder of the non-profit Sierra Public Media Corporation, who spearheaded the effort to bring a radio station to Truckee for the past 10 years.

“We would have had to find $40,000 a month in advertising to keep the station afloat.”

At this point, the station has a broadcast automation system with 1,200 songs and periodic station identification with the slogan “Rockin’ the High Sierra.”

Once Truckster Broadcasting receives final FCC approval for full power – 6,000 watts from the Mount Pluto radio tower – the company will lease the station to another company for operation and programming, said Randy Bridges, an engineer with the Washington, D.C.-based company.

Truckster is currently in negotiations with an undisclosed company to lease the station. Bridges predicted 101.5 FM should be ready for lease in approximately 30 days.

“We intend for the station to be an integral part of the community,” Bridges said.

Truckster Broadcasting is a partnership between Todd Robinson and Flinn Broadcasting, which owns six stations in various locations nationwide, including two frequencies in Reno.

Some of the stations, Bridges said, are leased to radio giants Clear Channel and Citadel.

Over the past decade, McNally said he has personally spent more than $5,000 on the engineering work to locate a viable frequency for a radio station in Truckee. Competing stations in Reno and Sacramento, taking up much of the bandwidth, hindered his search.

McNally’s drive to bring a radio station to Truckee was based on the “need for real-time communication in the community,” he said, especially in emergency situations.

When asked if he was disappointed to see 101.5 FM go to a commercial enterprise, McNally answered, “As long as they are a conduit for local emergency information to the community.”

Truckster Broadcasting’s Truckee office is located at 12030 Donner Pass Road.

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