A Brand New Community Radio Station Is Coming To Takoma

Saturday, Jul 16, 2016

It should be easy enough to remember. At 9:43 a.m. tomorrow, set the dial on the radio to 94.3 FM.

From the speakers will come a set of voices that you don't normally hear on the radio: your neighbors. Takoma Radio launches tomorrow with promises of inclusivity and a wide range of programming. "We are a community radio station and what that means is anyone can walk through these doors and apply for a show," says Tatyana Safronova, the station manager and a member of the executive team. "Our real goal is to be representative of a diverse community."

Founded by Marika Partridge, a former director of NPR's All Things Considered, a group of volunteers have been working to make Takoma Radio a reality for several years. When the Federal Communications Commission opened up applications for new low-power FM radio stations in 2013, they applied with the support of the non-profit Historic Takoma. The group was granted the license earlier this year, and has been been hard at work raising the funds and cultivating the shows to make it a reality.

Tomorrow, it will all pay off with a grand opening celebration and the beginning of 24/7 coverage.

Relentless outreach paid off in the form of voices and topics that you don't typically find on the airwaves. Two 14-year-old girls will dispense advice about, well, being a 14-year-old girl. Two women—one Iranian, one Israeli—have a show about world hip hop and feminism. There are shows in Spanish, one dedicated to world jazz, another to Congolese guitar, an environmental magazine, and the list of 30-something offerings goes on.

The station will broadcast within two to five miles from its antenna site, reaching residents in D.C., Montgomery County, and Prince George's County (it will also broadcast online). And they are all encouraged to get involved.

"I would encourage people to apply" to host or volunteer, Safronova says. "We're doing the kind of training that you usually go to school for."

A few dozen people are already regularly involved, working on programming, hosting shows, handling the engineering. But the ultimate goal is about isn't just to get the station running—it is about being a real asset to the community. To that end, they're also doing media training, podcasting classes, concerts, and events.

"What we're trying to say is: this is a resource, please take advantage of it," Safronova says. "We're much more than just a radio station."

Takoma Radio's launch event begins tomorrow at 9 a.m. with an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, and the first broadcast starts at 9:43 a.m. The celebration will continue through 6 p.m. with gardening, a vinyl sale, and live music at 7014 Westmoreland Avenue in Takoma Park.


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