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Radio Free Salem
What are the sounds of Salem? Karen Holman aims to find out with her project Radio Free Salem.

KMUZ-Radio Free Salem will be a noncommercial community-oriented FM radio station broadcasting in the Mid-Willamette Valley region at 88.5 MHz.

Holman, a chemistry professor at Willamette University and guitarist in the Funhouse Strippers, was a radio deejay for ten years before moving to Salem in 2001. She soon discovered there was no community radio station here. She teamed up with Steve Koc, a chiropractor and musician/songwriter for Martyrs of Sound to work on the Radio Free project.

“Steve helped in many ways including identifying a nonprofit organization to be the `figurehead’ and holder of the FCC license: the Salem Folklore Community,” Holman said.

The group seeks $60,000 in funding to purchase a transmitter, antenna, and various broadcast equipment.  

“We also need to begin saving for rent and utilities for a broadcast studio,” Holman said, “As of October 2008, our bank account balance is about $1,000.”

Financial woes aside, Holman is looking forward to making this service available to the Salem community.

“The station will serve as a beacon for local events, culture, news, ideas, and the arts,” she said. “It is our intention that any community member could be a part of the radio station in any capacity she or he desires — programming, investigative reporting, grant writing, administrative duties, promotions.

“KMUZ (think muse and music) will bring fresh local voices and diverse music to the airwaves, something that is currently lacking in the Salem area. It will provide another venue to bring our community together and allow free expression.”

In addition to entertainment, KMUZ is mandated to be an educational forum for the community.

This may be fulfilled by actual on-the-air programming, such as shows geared toward local interests or by off-the-air initiatives such as training at-risk youth in aspects of running a radio station.

“We hope to work with many of the various organizations in this region to synergistically enhance each other’s goals,” Holman said. “And more importantly, we want a place where people can learn to be deejays, radio organizers, fundraisers, and have fun.

“We are truly local, and NOT an outlet for national feeds from NPR or other news outlets. KMUZ will serve the community with Valley news and information.”