The airwaves around Magnuson Park are set to be abuzz in 2017 with a new low-power FM radio station – and Sand Point Housing youth residents will be among the very first voices broadcast. Considered “participatory radio” and able to operate with a small budget and lots of volunteers, KMGP 101.1 Magnuson radio intends to broadcast creative and community-based, noncommercial radio programming to the Park and the surrounding community.
SPACE (Sand Point Arts and Cultural Exchange), the station’s permit holder, is making this magic happen thanks to a $25K grant from the Seattle Department of Information Technology. KMGP will be one of a cohort of new low-power FM radio stations across Seattle, an opportunity arising from President Obama’s signing the Local Community Radio Act in 2010.
Since 1994, SPACE has worked with Seattle Parks and Recreation to fund, facilitate and promote arts and cultural activities and events for the public within Magnuson Park, serving diverse audiences and forging regional collaborations.
“The new radio station is designed to build airwaves so all people in our community can have a voice,” says SPACE Executive Director Julianna Ross. “Working from the arts, we know that not everything of value generates corporate profit. What this community radio station provides is programming that reflects and informs the public and is not beholden to selling diet plans, cars or cable TV services. It is a radio station that shares the values of the public park it calls home.”
SPACE is excited about the connections the radio station can build. Collaborating with Jack Straw Cultural Center and a teaching artist, six Sand Point Housing teens were engaged to produce Recordings on the Run. They interviewed people who work in various capacities at Magnuson Park, then edited their 20- to 30-minute interviews down to 2- to 3-minute spots.
Local multimedia artist Amy Piñon was the lead teaching artist for Recordings on the Run. Bringing a wealth of experience lifting up underrepresented voices in media arts in Seattle, she worked with the youth to practice interviewing skills and how to operate recording equipment to capture stories.
Amy says, “Some things we focused on were getting to the heart of a story by asking follow up questions, professionalism, setting recording levels, and how to hold the mic properly. We listened to professional radio story examples to guide the project and did a lot of interview practice in front of the whole group, so that the group could provide feedback and notes for improvement.”
By the end of the program, all of the youth interviewed different people who work in Magnuson Park, adding their own narration to the stories at Jack Straw’s studios, and editing the narration and interview tape together to create their final pieces. In mid-November, the youth had a listening session at the Magnuson Community Center where they got to celebrate their finished work together.
“I noticed right away that this group had no trouble speaking right into the mic and recording themselves, which was exciting to see,” Amy says. “From there, we helped them hone their interviewing and recording skills, and I saw great improvement from the first day of practice interviews to the depth of their questions in the final interviews. Beyond interviewing and recording skills, I think the youth also gained more confidence in their own voices and ability to tell stories, which intersects in so many other aspects of their lives.”
Julianna says future programming will involve not just youth but also adult residents of Sand Point Housing, as well as the many volunteers, staff and community members who participate in the myriad organizations and activities that take place in Magnuson Park.
For more information, FAQs and proposed programming, visit the SPACE website – and stay tuned for an update when KMGP 101.1 FM is up and running!