On Feb. 15, KVRU FM, the low-power FM radio station based in Rainier Valley, held an open house event to launch a new cycle of programming and community engagement. A range of folks attended the event, including youth, elders, members of local nonprofit organizations and community leaders.
The event marks the latest iteration of the community radio station, which was founded in 2017 under the sponsorship of SouthEast Effective Development. The radio station added more online programming to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. It has broadcasted public health announcements in multiple languages, trained young people in audio production and organized educational workshops with community groups. The station also piloted a community news circle in 2021 (which this writer was a part of) and hosted panel discussions with other media organizations such as Real Change.
According to KVRU Station Manager Luzviminda Uzuri Carpenter, the next step in KVRU’s journey is to deepen the organization’s focus on media justice, including holding monthly educational workshops to inform audiences about how inequities within the news industry shape society, culture and politics.
Carpenter said that the relaunch was also about the radio station following the lead of the community and creating sustainable, long-term partnerships.
“We’re community-centered, but that takes effort and time, and we have to flow and ebb with community,” she said.
Like most grassroots media organizations, KVRU is also trying to cultivate a sustainable fundraising base by recruiting 50 new members by October.
Despite the challenges with running a grassroots organization, Carpenter said that the transformative aspect of low-power FM radio makes it worth it.
“The way my life is — and the reason why I’m a teacher — was not because I learned something from an institution, [but because] I learned it from the community,” she said. “I learned it from Hollow Earth Radio low-power FM. And if that didn’t exist, then I wouldn’t be here where I was. Where there was community reaching for other community, saying that we need these tools: We need to learn technology.”
Read more of the Feb. 22-28, 2023 issue.