Public Radio in Island County

90.7 KSER proposes new public radio station for Island County.
In the Fall of 2007, 90.7 KSER filed an application with the FCC to build a new public radio station serving Island County and surrounding communities.

KSER is the only public radio station licensed and headquartered in the North Puget Sound. We have experience providing a really relevant local public radio service, partnering with grass-roots organizations and community groups to provide a diverse, inclusive program line-up that focuses on local issues.
KSER, long a favorite in Snohomish County, is hoping to bring the same community-centered public radio service to residents of Island County and the surrounding area.
The frequency—89.9—is one of the last non-commercial frequencies available in the Puget Sound. KSER is not the only applicant. But we feel we have the strongest application, and we have the strongest roots in serving listeners in the North Puget Sound.
The FCC process is a competitive one that awards licenses by a complicated “point system”.  But community support will play a role in getting the station started. The process of applying for a license and competing with other applicants involves lots of legal fees. If people want to support our effort to expand public radio service on Whidbey Island, we could certainly use their help. 
Currently, KSER airs a dozen locally produced news programs reporting on issues unique to listeners in Snohomish County, including The Takeaway, heard weekday mornings at 8:00. Recent features on KSER include a series of election-related programs, produced in collaboration with the League of Women Voters of Snohomish County, highlighting candidates for office in local elections.
Seattle public radio stations have been covering issues of concern to Seattle residents, as they should, and have done a good job of reporting on state-wide issues. But our series with the League of Women Voters has been the only consistent broadcast coverage of Snohomish county elections on the airwaves.
KSER  hopes to replicate this approach with its proposed station on Whidbey Island. We’d like to leverage existing relationships on the Islands to help local folks produce their own media—targeted to the needs, interests and concerns of Island residents. For years, KSER has aired a weekly segment with Whidbey Island writer and reporter Sue Frause, as well as frequent public service announcements and news items from island resident Darrell Gray, a retired newspaper publisher living in Coupeville. (Scott Wilson, editor of the Port Townsend Leader is also a regular guest on KSER—another example of the station’s commitment to community-centered media).
Our commitment to serving the Islands has been long-standing, but our signal from KSER has limits, and doesn’t cover all of the Island County. With our proposed new radio station in Freeland, we will be able to reach the whole island, and tailor our programming on that station specifically for local listeners. We look forward to partnering with island residents and organizations, including Whidbey’s LPFM station KWPA, to build a truly unique, community-oriented public radio service.

No one knows how long it will take for the FCC to review all the applicants for this last public radio frequency in the Puget Sound. It could take 1-7 years, and once a frequency is granted, the FCC gives applicants up to 3 years to complete construction and begin broadcasting. In the mean time, public radio listeners on South Whidbey Island can hear KSER at 90.7 on the radio dial, or tune in to the Island’s own Low-Powered FM station KWPA, 103.1. out of Coupeville. 

If you are interested in supporting our effort to bring community-centered public radio to the Islands, please contact KSER General Manager, Bruce Wirth at 425-303-9070 or by email.

Recent press coverage has highlighted our efforts: