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Childs, with a tenacity common to many of the KWTF volunteers, says that no matter what, they'll be on the air in March, even it means not buying the full-strength equipment. That would limit the station's coverage area, but would allow the permit to stay open.
Of course, original programming is already available for listening at www.KWTF.net. The station currently plays eight hours of new programming Monday through Friday; on weekends, it drops to six. According to Saari, the station's only paid employee, 40 percent of KWTF's schedule is made up of local programming. The rest is filled out with freely distributed programs specifically for community radio stations and content produced for KWTF, but which comes from more than a hundred miles away. Syndicated shows include Democracy Now! in Spanish, CounterSpin (produced by a team from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) and Free Speech Radio News.
"Our goal is to have as much local origination as possible," says Saari. "We also want to have a 60–40 split between music and talk radio."
Current locally produced programs include Sneaker.net, hosted by two Sonoma County techies and focused on technology and geek culture; Women's Spaces, hosted by Elaine B. Holtz, with a focus on the "needs and talents of women"; and Pillow Storm, an offbeat, often hilarious music show hosted by stalwart indie-scene supporters Josh Drake and Josh Staples, who made the move from KCRB over to KWTF this fall.
Vinyl-O-Matic, hosted by Sebastopol-based musician and graphic designer Will McCollum, plays on weekdays. McCollum's been creating the show—a journey from A to Z through his 900-strong record collection—since March 2012 in a home studio using Audacity software. His influences include WFMU's Teenage Wasteland with Bill Kelly and KALX shows like Sex 14s, Pop Goes the Weasel and Tiger Lily.
"I've been an avid, free-form radio fan for the last 20 years," says McCollum, who has no previous hosting experience. "It's been rewarding to host my own show, because I've been able to get further in touch with the community at large in Sonoma County by going to different KWTF events and getting to know the people involved in the station."
Once the transmitter is in place, McCollum plans on bringing in different members of the community to share their own favorite songs and records on the air. It's an example of how key "local" is to the KWTF mission. Station organizers are always on the lookout for new programmers from the area, and the KWTF website contains more information about how to pitch show ideas.
"It's been great seeing people come up with ideas for shows and then doing them," says Childs. "There's something really cool about facilitating a way for people to tell more stories and get their music out in the world."
After all, isn't that what community-based, grassroots radio is all about? As Saari adds, "Local radio is an important way to reach a local audience. We want to be part of a more vibrant and diverse public community radio landscape in Sonoma County."