FAIRBANKS – A new radio station that promises to be the voice of Fairbanks’ underrepresented plans to start broadcasting in early 2015.

KWRK 90.9 FM-LP received FCC authorization in February. The “LP” in the call sign stand for low power. The new station’s range will be a four-mile radius around its studio at the corner of College Road and University Avenue Studio. It also will stream on the Web.

The authorization completes an eight-year effort by Fairbanks Open Radio, a group that split off from National Public Radio-affiliate station KUAC-89.9 FM in 2006 after the station made programing changes.

KWRK will try to represent under-represented groups in Fairbanks including poor people, gays, Natives, veterans, the young and the old, according to a news release from the new station. Under its certification with the FCC, the station will provide eight hours of locally produced content per day. The station plans to be exclusively or mostly volunteer based, volunteer Flyn Ludington said. A goal of the station is to not accept corporate contributions, she said. 

Content may include local music, radio dramas, talk shows and reading of public-domain books, Ludington said. There’s talk of a program about natural parenting and a news show called “Democracy North” based on the national “Democracy Now” with Amy Goodman. The station also will likely broadcast “Democracy Now” along with other syndicated programs like “Free Speech Radio News” and “CounterSpin.”

People interested in broadcasting on KWRK can contact the station by calling 374-0577 or through the Fairbanks Open Radio Facebook page, Ludington said. The station is in the Alaska Peace Center office. 


A long road

A second non-commercial radio station was born along the way to creating KWRK.

Fairbanks Open Radio initially requested the FCC application that led to the creation of new high powered FM station KRFF 89.1. Last year, Fairbanks Open Radio leaders decided the more expensive high-powered station would be too ambitious and “passed the torch” to the Athabascan Fiddlers Association, Ludington said.

KRFF started broadcasting last summer and has a Alaska Native issues format. It uses content from the Anchorage-based Kohanic Broadcast Corporation.

Meanwhile, Fairbanks Open Radio lowered its sights to being an Internet-only station or a content provider for other

station. “But the Web platform was kind of nebulous, and we always wanted to

be on the dial,” Ludington said.

A new law created a one-time opening for 1,000 new low-powered commercial licensees in fall 2013. Fairbanks Open Radio got together and put together their application during the three-week window.

“It was a once in a lifetime deal. I don’t think the FCC is going to do it again. Or at least, in the foreseeable future,” Ludington said. 

Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.