The Story of KFOK Community Radio
The American River Folk Society, recognizing the need for a local radio station to serve the Georgetown Divide, applied for a construction permit to build and license a community radio station in the Georgetown area. On December 4, 2000, the Federal Communications Commission granted ARFS a permit for a low-power FM station to be operated at 95.1 FM.
In order for KFOK to qualify for licensing, it had to broadcast a minimum of 36 hours a week with at least 5 hours of broadcasting 6 days a week by December 4, 2002. KFOK went on the air on November 23, 2002, broadcasting 7 days a week with more than 40 hours of weekly programming.
Today, our 40 or so broadcasters present about 60 hours of live programming per week from our studio at Georgetown's Main Street Plaza. Most live programming runs from about 8 am to 10 pm, at about which time we switch over to a computer program that plays music though the late-night and early-morning hours so that we are on the air 24 hours a day every day. This program, called Playlist, also provides music in intervals between live programming as well as substitutes for program hosts when they are absent.
Our live broadcasting consists primarily of a diverse range of music programming selected and created by broadcasters from the Georgetown Divide and the surrounding region. We also feature public-affairs programming on aging and senior issues, families, history, science and the environment, and other topics. In addition to broadcasting on the air, we stream our broadcasts onto the Internet from our website.
All personnel at the station are volunteers, so there are no paid positions, but the yearly cost to run the station is about $25,000, which includes the cost of rent, utilities, insurance, office supplies, membership fees, royalty licenses, an online streaming subscription, and equipment upgrades. Because of these expenses, fund-raising continues to be a very important ongoing activity for KFOK, and we appreciate the generosity of our members, our underwriters, and the community at large.
Why Can't I Hear KFOK?
Quick tip: Do you have a directional FM antenna pointed toward Georgetown? This will help with reception of low-power FM. The higher the antenna, the better chance you have of picking up KFOK!
Although low-power FM stations can broadcast at power levels up to 100 watts, we broadcast at just 2 watts because the FCC determined that our high elevation, as compared to the surrounding canyons, rates us at the lowest possible power level. But because our mountainous terrain blocks reception of our signal to everyone except those close to town or on nearby hilltops, we plan to request a waiver to be allowed more power.
We have found that our current power output does not adequately cover our alloted broadcast area, so we are hopeful that our request will be granted. However, we are advised that the FCC is reluctant to grant such requests, so everyone within a four-mile radius of Georgetown is invited to write a letter of support to the FCC stating that you are eager to be able to hear your local community radio broadcast. Please send your letter to KFOK Community Radio, PO Box 4238, Georgetown CA 95634. We will submit all your letters with our application for more power.
The good news is that with low-power FM stations, tower height is more important than power, and a line-of-site view of the broadcast antenna is critical for reaching listeners even within a mile or two of the antenna. We are excited that we have a permit from the FCC that will allow us to move our antenna to the radio tower on Hotchkiss Hill, and we are working with the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District, which owns the property, to mount our antenna there. The higher we get, the more we can reach over the hilltops and into the ravines and canyons, so our upcoming move will dramatically improve our broadcast coverage on the Divide.
What You Can Do to Improve Reception
In the meantime, if you can pick up the broadcast in your car anywhere on your property, you may be able to pull the signal into your home by using an FM lead-off of your current TV antenna. Low-power FM signals are highly directional, so if you can purchase a separate FM antenna and point it toward Georgetown, you can also increase your chances to pick up the station. The higher, the better, so if you can set up a FM antenna 50 to 100 feet up in a tree, you will have a much better chance.
Try Our Internet Broadcast
If you cannot pick up the station over the airwaves, give our Internet broadcast a try. We stream our live broadcast 24 hours a day. To listen, go to our home page and click on the button at the top right-hand corner of the page.
This Is Your Community Radio Station
We are delighted with the community support we have seen, and all of us involved offer you our thanks! This is your community radio station, and we want everyone to realize that our direction and programming will be shaped by whoever gets involved. Everyone is invited to participate and contribute in creating a radio station that serves the listeners of the entire Georgetown Divide. With your continued support, we hope to reach that goal. Please tell your friends about KFOK Community Radio -- we need their support and involvement too.