Mike McGinn just got lots of D.I.Y. cred.
The mayor listed Central District based indie online radio station Hollow Earth as one of the recipients for this year’s Technology Matching Fund. According to station founder Garret Kelly, Hollow Earth is planning to use the $20,000 grant to pay for studio upgrades, new equipment, and a part time employee to train volunteers on radio protocol. Most exciting though, the station is paying for an engineering study to research whether or not it can grab itself some airwaves.
“We are going to see if there is a viable frequency,” Kelly says, “we just have to make sure it doesn’t bleed into other people’s.”
Hollow Earth is one of a number of local organizations applying to the FCC for small, local broadcast frequencies thanks to the Local Community Radio Act that Obama signed into law in 2010. The act loosened restrictions for groups seeking low power FM frequencies. By nipping into the frequencies between major stations, space is opened up for smaller scale operations, like the one Hollow Earth is looking to launch thanks to its newfound wad of cash.
Hollow Earth is only looking for a frequency that would reach the Central District neighborhood.
“We want to keep it hyperlocal, and help people in the neighborhood,” Kelly says. “We really want to keep it about the community. Not everyone has access to the Internet, but the radio is free, so we want to be able to reach more people and be accessible.”
While Hollow Earth has made a name playing lesser known, local D.I.Y. music, the station is looking to foray into the news world with this new grant. Kelly is hoping to set up a Central District newsroom at Hollow Earth with the help of Tom Fucoloro, who just recently left his editor post at Central District News to pursue his work at Seattle Bike Blog full time.
“With the signal, I think it would help the station be really Central District focused,” Fucoloro says. “If they are looking for help, I would absolutely love to do that.”
Fucoloro recently taught a Central District Journalism School, a six week crash course on hyperlocal citizen journalism.
“The radio waves would be great for people who might be interested in hyperlocal journalism, but aren’t interested in writing. This way you can just hand them a mic,” Fucoloro says.
The mayor’s Technology Matching Fund announcement can be found here.