KMUZ, the community radio station of Salem and its environs, is continually expanding both its range and its programming.
Five years old this last December, the all-volunteer station heard at 100.7 and 88.5 FM offers shows on gardening, events, art, history, music, senior care and more.
But what about politics?
“I like to use the term ‘public affairs,’ says Melanie Zermer, founding board member and President in 2015 and 2016. “It seems less loaded and broader in scope.”
KMUZ has a number of public affairs shows, but one airs five times a week, with different hosts each day. That’s Willamette Wake Up (WWU), which is heard Monday through Friday from 8-9am. Most days the show starts with a nationally syndicated news segment called Democracy Now! Headline News – just to get a flavor of what’s happening nationally. The rest of the show is dedicated to local news maker interviews and announcements about community events – from a kids’ program happening at a library to a public hearing on a school district budget.
Due to the variety of hosts and their interests, WWU covers diverse topics including Salem city news and local newsmakers and “legislative matters” which covers critical legislation in the state Capitol. There are also programs on local nonprofits, social justice issues, the natural environment, Polk county news, corrections and mental health issues. Zermer notes, “During election season, we interview candidates in local contested races” to allow listeners a better understanding of those seeking office.
One public affairs program, The Forum, airs recordings of local lectures, forums and panel discussions. Subjects might range from science to history to current events. Salem City Club and the Willamette Heritage Center’s History in the News are regular segments on The Forum. Produced by Stella Shaffer, the show airs Fridays at 1pm and repeats Sunday at 8am.
“I love being able to share one part of the community with the community at large,” Zermer says. Often heard on-air herself, Zermer “especially liked interviewing Micky Logan from the Oregon State Hospital about the people who‘ve been committed there because of a crime, but were found ‘insane’ by the courts.” Since the hospital is part of the Salem community and landscape, “I think our listeners would want to know more about what happens at the hospital,” she says.
The station also gives voice to groups who represent people of color and underrepresented groups, in part to broaden understanding. “I feel if we better understand each other, we will be more tolerant,” Zermer says. On a recent program, for example, she asked Andrea Williams of CAUSA, an immigrants rights organization, why people who live in the area illegally shouldn’t be deported. “Her reply,” Zermer says, was, “that… the law is breaking up families. ‘People aren’t bad,’ she said to me, ‘the laws are.’ I thought it was a good perspective.”
KMUZ airs programming nearly 24/7.