KNAK church community radio is on the air
A small church community in Bristol Bay is hoping their new radio station will be a way to celebrate God, bring the community together, and highlight local talent.
The King's Chapel (KC) church in Naknek started regular broadcasting this past Easter of KNAK 97.1 FM. Pastor Timothy Capo was inspired by the desire to bring something different to the community.
"It just seemed like a good idea for the community," Capo said. "We are a Christian faith-based station, but we have a little bit different content. We have things that are a little bit more upbeat."
This includes a mixture of Christian rock, rap and pop.
"It is stuff that is upbeat, people can drive to it or work out to it," Capo said. "We wanted to reach different people and we want people to feel energetic."
For the most part the station airs music, but the schedule also includes inspirational talks and ideas that can help leadership. In the evenings KNAK runs ministerial talks on marriages and also Biblical teachings. The station is currently on air 24 hours, 7 days a week.
"It takes a lot of time," Capo said.
Members of the KC church, which was founded in 2013, heard through word of mouth that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was accepting applications for low-powered FM stations.
Capo felt that radio could broaden the church's appeal. Getting from an idea to an actual station proved to be a steep learning curve for the station.
The church applied for, and was granted, a permit to construct a radio station. Permit in hand, they now had to have a station up and running in 18 months. If they failed, their licence would expire.
Starting out, they knew next to nothing about the hardware or the software needed, and had no idea how to assemble the equipment. It took them the full 18 months just to research everything that was needed.
They learned that to set up a radio station was going to cost tens of thousands of dollars, including the programs and music licensing. They also had to search for a structure that could be used to mount an antenna 40 feet in the air.
With time running out, the group was determined not to give up on the project. They applied for a one-time extension on the construction permit and were granted an additional 18 months.
The church was fortunate to have contacts in Florida with many years' experience in the radio industry who were happy to offer guidance and training. These contacts helped the church to determine the equipment they would need and also donated two crucial pieces of equipment: an antenna and a radio mixer sound board.
The only downside was that the sound board was missing its power supply, and replacements were expensive. But after a needle-in-a-haystack search through the storage shed of the auction house where the soundboard was purchased, the power supply was found.
Over the course of the project, the church had worked the standard practice of tithing and donations and Capo said they were able to raise "some" money, but not enough. Before Christmas last year, with a Jan. 31 deadline looming and more equipment still needed, the church managed to raise some eleventh-hour funds.
"Many people in our community gave," Capo said.
On Jan. 23 of this year, after days of weather delays, the station's antenna was finally raised and mounted to the top of an aesthetic spire at the front of the church. The first broadcast was made just a few short days before the deadline, and 97.1 KNAK-LP was born.
97.1 KNAK-LP is able to reach the villages of Naknek, South Naknek and King Salmon. In the future the station is hoping to offer internships and other projects for those interested in audio engineering or music.
"I really hope it becomes part of the community," Capo said. "I am trying to get as many voices as I can on the radio and just be an asset to the community."