KSKQ has power ... for now

After drawn-out negotiations with US Cellular and a frantic struggle to keep its FM signal on the air, community radio station KSKQ recently reached an agreement to bring power to its broadcasting antenna on Table Mountain.

The station signed a six-month use agreement on Dec. 5 with the cell phone service provider, which owns a transformer on the mountain that KSKQ's antenna is now drawing electricity from.

"We had this big race to get the power situation figured out before winter "… and it finally came together for us," said Jason Houk, news director for the Ashland-based radio station. "Where we're at now is really exciting, because our next big step is being able to offer valley-wide service."

The radio station had been waiting for a response from US Cellular since installing its antenna on the mountain last June.

"We were finally able to negotiate an interim solution with US Cellular," said Connie Saldaña, treasurer for the radio station and its operator, the Multicultural Association of Southern Oregon. "The wait was a little frustrating "… but in the end it turned out to be a really positive agreement for us."

During that wait, a propane generator being used to power the radio antenna ran out of fuel when heavy snowfall prevented a fuel truck from reaching the site for nearly a week.

After two-and-a-half days of a fuzzy FM frequency, the station was able to refill its propane tank and reestablished generator power to its antenna on Nov. 16.

Securing a permanent agreement with US Cellular now hinges on negotiations with the land owner concerning easement rights of a power line running across the property, Saldaña said.

"We'll have to work out a permanent agreement with either US Cellular or the landlord," said Saldaña.

Neither the landowner, Kathy Uhtoff of Ashland, nor US Cellular responded to phone messages Monday.

Saldaña said a few of the station's volunteers celebrated the transformer connection on Dec. 6 with a bottle of sparkling apple cider on the mountain top.

"No generator, just a beautiful breeze blowing up there now," Saldaña said.

The station will now begin a fundraising campaign to purchase and install a permanent full-power antenna at the site, which should allow it to reach the entire Rogue Valley, including Gold Hill and Shady Cove, according to the station's tests, Saldaña said.

An open house and New Year's Eve party at the KSKQ station, at 330 E. Hersey St., Lot 2, on Dec. 31, from 1 to 4 p.m. will mark the beginning of an effort to raise about $10,000.

Saldaña said purchasing the full-power antenna will cost $5,000 and it will cost another $5,000 to tune its frequency to not interfere with the valley's existing stations.

"And once we do that, so many more people will be able to participate," she said. "That's the next hurdle, our main goal, and we're aiming for April."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email swheeler@dailytidings.com.

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