The Mendocino Beacon

Local radio station loses antenna during storm

- By Mary Benjamin

Midday on Wednesday, January 4, Bob Young, Chairman of the Noyo Radio Project since 2000 and the KNYO radio station manager, received a call at home from the property owner whose 70-foot pine tree held the station's tower and antenna. Young, who was listening to the station at the time, was surprised to learn that the entire tree had been uprooted, and all the radio equipment was on the ground. The radio transmitte­r was continuing to broadcast.

Living only a quarter of a mile away from the transmitte­r, located about a mile and a half on eastbound Highway 20 and a quarter mile in from the road, Young headed out to access the damage although the storm's wind speed was still at a dangerous level. He saw the aftermath of the tree's fall and was grateful that no living creature had been in the area at the time. “Anything would have been dust under that tree,” Young said.

The wind force at that time was powerful enough to prevent PG&E from sending out linemen to repair a spate of outages in the vicinity. Many trees had already fallen in that area of the woods, and repair would have to wait until gale-force winds subsided. Young could do nothing either, and he quickly returned home to safety.

Per Federal Communicat­ions Commission (FCC) regulation­s, a temporary six-month fix secured the old antenna twentysix feet off the ground onto a building. This insured that KNYO could stabilize transmissi­on and continue broadcasti­ng twenty-four hours a day. It was pure luck that the grounded equipment was not demolished, but Young saw no practical reason to reinstall an old transmissi­on system. By necessity, at the time of purchase, the equipment had been the cheapest available on the market.

The best option for the Noyo Radio Project was to obtain better quality equipment, and Bob Young set up a Go Fund Me account to raise the $5,000 needed to replace the tower, antenna, cables, and other necessary parts. Radio station KNYO at 107.7 FM is appealing for financial help. Besides airing informatio­n about its fundraiser, the station also has the Go

Fund Me project posted on its website at for donations from the public.

One week into the fundraisin­g campaign, KNYO had $1,600 in donations which Young saw as a positive sign. The FM station is a low-power service with a transmissi­on radius of about five miles. However, the station also broadcasts on the internet, and regular listeners as far away as the East Coast quickly donated to the fund. Young said that the station does not track its total number of “terrestria­l listeners,” but he believes that at any one time, about 81 people are tuned in online.

It may seem that this small station would be no loss in a county that is home to multiple radio stations. Bob Young acknowledg­ed, “The radio stations in Fort Bragg, I think, are really amazing. We can't compete with them. They're just too good.” KNYO operates on a shoestring budget, all of its staff are volunteers, but some programmin­g is profession­ally produced.

For example, a national news show airs as do talk shows such as The Tom Hartman Show with a live feed,

Roots and All, and Memo of the Year. Local deejays, some who broadcast from the radio's studio and others who pre-record or work live from home, produce a variety of music genres specific to their preference­s. At times, Young faces unprogramm­ed air time. He then oversees the creation of automated blocks of rock `n roll and folk music.

Young is always on the lookout for potential deejays to take on slots of available time. “Our mission,” he said, “is mostly educationa­l.” He explained, “I'd rather have more non-profession­als learning the ropes.” He points to a few deejays who started out on KNYO and later went on to KZYX or other stations .”Those,” he said, “are our real successes. Roots and All is one of them.” This national show is broadcast by a former KNYO deejay.

The annual funding of KNYO and its operations depends upon private donors and local businesses that underwrite some of the shows. “We've never been about making money,” Young noted. He affirmed that the station understood that “entertaini­ng and informing the public is important.” However, he also believes that the “most valuable thing we offer is that people can go on the air and get their toes wet with radio.”

He added that this unique opportunit­y isn't used enough. He encouraged interested community members to consider volunteeri­ng “if they have any future aspiration­s of being in the media or studying communicat­ions.”

 ?? CONTRIBUTE­D ?? Bob Young at Radio KNYO FM studio in Fort Bragg.
CONTRIBUTE­D Bob Young at Radio KNYO FM studio in Fort Bragg.

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