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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vanguard Radio Tonight on KDRT 6 PM to 7 PM

Join us tonight on KDRT 101.5 FM from 6 PM to 7 PM.

Tonight's guest is Dr. Jann Murray-Garcia a local activist, we'll be talking about some of her youth projects, hate crime, and Barack Obama.

Callers are welcome to call in at: 530.792.1648

The big news from KDRT is the frequency change that will save Davis' local radio station. Beginning on September 23, KDRT will move to 95.7 FM, it will be a frequency that will enable all of Davis and even surrounding areas to listen to the broadcasts. In addition, the new website which will be launched will have streaming and archiving capabilities.

Up until now, we have podcasted Vanguard archives for listening from this blog. A hearty thank you to Don Shor for making that happen for us.

Press release from Davis Media Access

KDRT-LP remains on air

Frequency change, streaming loom as big changes for small station Davis Media Access (DMA) announced today that its 18-month battle to keep low-power radio station KDRT on the air had come to a "mostly satisfactory” conclusion.

“The Federal Communications Commission found a way to squeeze us in, instead of squeezing us out,” said Jeff Shaw, station director for KDRT and a DMA staff member. "The bad news is: we have to move. The good news is: we're still on the air, which means we will be able to continue serving the community.”

DMA holds the license and provides a home for the volunteer-driven radio station, which has operated at 101.5 FM in Davis since its launch on Sept. 24, 2004. Beginning Sept. 23, KDRT will broadcast at 95.7 FM.

In January 2007, Results Radio, the parent corporation of KMJE, a commercial station in Gridley, filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move to Yolo County, where its signal would displace KDRT at 101.5 FM.

The FCC authorized the LPFM service in 2000 to encourage localism in radio, which had been severely diminished during several decades worth of media consolidation in the commercial sector. However, the FCC gave LPFM stations secondary status under commercial stations, which makes such encroachments possible.

Once KDRT found out about the petition, its organizers filed a complaint with the FCC. Shaw said the past 18 months have been spent dealing with lawyers, broadcast engineers, FCC staffers and Results Radio representatives, as well as waiting for the FCC to move through its decision-making process. KDRT was guided through the process by broadcast attorney Michael Couzens of San Francisco, who successfully fought a similar encroachment in Spokane, WA.

“From the moment we found out that KDRT’s frequency was being threatened by encroachment, a coalition of KDRT programmers, other community volunteers, and DMA’s staff and board began organizing a concerted campaign to try to fight this,” Shaw said. “The ‘Save Our Station’ or SOS campaign focused on public education, cultivating support from elected officials and public policy makers, and raising money to pay for the legal and engineering fees associated with the fight.

‘We knew it was a long shot, and we also knew we had to try,” he said.

The 95.7 frequency was not available a year ago, and was only freed up through the process of the FCC changing some of its rule making on the Low-Power service. "The unfortunate turmoil that KDRT-LP was subjected to when its frequency was undermined by a full-power station had a silver lining," said Pete Tridish, founder of the Prometheus Radio Project, an LPFM support and advocacy group based in Philadelphia. "While some smaller low-power stations were quickly intimidated by corporate lawyers who told them their channel was no longer theirs, KDRT's strong organization helped bring public attention to the plight of low-power groups having their stations taken.

“The impact of KDRT’s story was felt in Washington DC, and the FCC has at least provisionally changed course on supporting the rights of community media as the result of KDRT-LP and stations in similar predicaments standing up for their rights,” Tridish said.

Autumn Labbé-Renault, DMA’s executive director and one of the original conveners of KDRT, said the station stood out because of its strong volunteer base, large number of public affairs shows, assistance to other LPFM’s (KDRT volunteers organized the Low-Power Radio Roundup in October 2005, a conference for more than 100 LPFM practitioners from three states), and broad-based community support, including letters from the Davis City Council, Yolo County Board of Supervisors, Assemblywoman Lois Wolk and Congressman Mike Thompson. Individual donations to the SOS campaign totaled nearly $14k.

“For the FCC to look at KDRT and say ‘this is what we charged them to do, and they have been successful’ and then pull the plug just didn't make sense,” Labbé-Renault said. “It would have been a serious breach of public interest, as well.”

Big changes looming

Much of the day-to-day operations of KDRT are coordinated through the 12-member volunteer KDRT Steering Committee, which comprises programmers and at-large volunteers. Chairperson George Moore also serves on DMA’s board. Moore said that rather than depleting KDRT, the encroachment battle energized both KDRT’s volunteers and the larger community.

Moore added that the frequency change brings with it some good opportunities for the station. As part of the transfer, KDRT will increase from 83 watts to 100 watts, which is the maximum allowable strength for LPFMs. The increase will strengthen KDRT’s signal in parts of Davis.

The station will be off the air intermittently between Sept. 6 and Sept. 16 as it re-engineers, and plans to fully re-launch at 95.7 on Sept. 23, 2008. Additional changes include web streaming beginning Sept. 23 at, and a revamped KDRT website and programming schedule.

“This is great proof that the Davis community cares deeply about freedom. As long as people's voices can be heard on their airwaves, we have a powerful tool for questioning the work of our government while also listening to great music,” said Nancy Bodily, who hosts “Earth Momma’s Mountain Music” on KDRT Thursdays at 10 a.m. “This community dug into its pockets and hearts to come up against the FCC, and our small voice was heard all the way to the office of the chairman.” Bodily also serves on the KDRT Steering Committee and the
DMA board.

Labbé-Renault said help came from many sources, including KDRT/DMA volunteers, elected officials, community members, local musicians and businesses—especially the Davis Food Co-op, which mounted several fund raisers, other LPFMs, as well as Prometheus Radio Project.

“At the end of the day, I can’t say I’m exactly glad this happened,” Labbé-Renault concludes. “I wouldn’t want anyone to go through this. I said publicly in April 2007 that KDRT would not go off the air on my watch. I meant it as a call to action, and I can say that we are all gratified by the response and support.”

A celebration of KDRT’s success is planned as part of “On the Backlot,” DMA’s 20th anniversary celebration and free community concert, Saturday, Oct. 18 from 3-9 p.m. at DMA, 1623 Fifth Street in Davis. More details are available at

---Doug Paul Davis reporting