Tune in Truckee: Non-profit strives to get on the air
Truckee is closer than it’s ever been to having its own radio station. In fact, if all goes well for the people at Sierra Public Media Corporation, KTRE 101.5 FM could be on the air by summer.
“[A radio station] is certainly something that’s been on our radar screen for years,” said MaryLou Sullivan, one of the corporation’s founders. “It’s probably the most likely it’s ever been.”
Gary McNally, president of the corporation, has attempted to secure a frequency for Truckee’s own radio station for the past 10 years. He said it’s been a challenge to attain adequate funding for Sierra Public Media, which is a non-profit organization, especially now with difficult economic times.
“Ad rates are at an all-time low,” he said. “I had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to make this happen.”
The last bid the corporation made for 101.5 FM was $125,000. McNally estimated building the station, which will likely be located at the top of Mount Pluto at Northstar, will cost between $60,000 and $90,000.
Truckee’s location alone has presented its own set of challenges. Radio stations in Reno and Sacramento take up most of the spectrum.
“Personally, I’ve spent $5,000 on the engineering work (to locate a viable frequency),” McNally said.
Five years ago, McNally began working toward getting KTRE under the control of Sierra Public Media Corporation. In order for 101.5 to come in clearly, three radio station frequencies in Susanville, Reno and Smith had to be relocated, which cost $250,000.
However, now McNally isn’t sure who will control 101.5 FM – an out-of-town satellite operator or a locally operated 24-hour news source.
“I hope it is the latter,” he said, “because this is our community’s last shot at real time news over a mass medium that can be received by everyone with an inexpensive battery powered radio.”
If Sierra Public Media operates the station, it would serve mainly as a means to relay emergency information to the public, in addition to news, weather, road conditions and traffic conditions. In the past year, with situations like the propane leak and the December storms, McNally said he has realized there is even more of a need for real-time communication in the community.
“I think it’s almost criminal for I-80 to not have a radio station,” he said. “A lot of people have been stuck on the roads here for a long time.”
When there isn’t any news to report, McNally said, a disc jockey will spin a song.
“That’s the easy part,” he said. “There are plenty of people who want to be a disc jockey.”
For more information on how to support 101.5 FM and Sierra Public Media, contact Marketing Director Ricki Jepsen at 582-8999.
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