Whidbey Island public radio opts for web

Don’t touch your old-fashioned radio dial, just click your computer’s mouse or touch your tablet or smart phone’s screen to hear the “new” Whidbey Public Radio.

Due to financial concerns, KWPA, based in Coupeville, has given up using  its spot on the FM radio spectrum, according to a news release, which cited the need for more financial and volunteer help to keep the nonprofit station afloat and continue sending its programming “around the world.”

The non-commercial, all-volunteer station has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past year. What began four years ago as KWPA, a low-power FM station that could only reach a few hundred listeners around Penn Cove, now sends its “Whidbey-centric programming” around the world via the Internet as KWPA, Whidbey AIR Public Radio. The low-power FM broadcast was suspended late last year to save costs.

“The Internet is definitely the best way to provide non-commercial Whidbey-centric programming to people all over the globe, and all of us at KWPA are very excited about the future,” said Gwen Samelson, president of the Whidbey AIR board.

As the station has recreated itself over the past year, Samelson said it purposely maintained a low profile until its volunteer board was satisfied that it had the right strategy to properly serve the Whidbey community.  Now, with renewed purpose and energy, the station is urgently seeking funds to remain alive.

“It may run out of funds by the end of this summer without more financial support from the community,” Samelson said.

“We need at least $15,000 per year to continue our service, which is a tiny fraction of the cost of operating an over-the-air radio station,” Samelson said. “We are an all-volunteer station. Nobody gets paid and we all put our hearts into it. Our principal costs are for music copyright licensing, rent, utilities and insurance.”

Contributions may be made by mailing a check, payable to KWPA, to KWPA, P.O. Box 1341, Coupeville, WA  98239. Gifts may also be made online using a credit card via PayPal at the station’s web site,  KWPA is registered with the IRS as a charitable 501(c)3  organization and gifts are tax deductible.

KWPA, Whidbey AIR also invites the public to a series of open houses at its studio behind the Windjammer Gallery. These events will give people a chance to stop by and talk with volunteers about the station. The station is seeking volunteers to produce programming and assist with administrative tasks. The open houses will be held Saturday May 26, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.; and Tuesday June 5, 10 a.m. to noon.

Those wishing to volunteer or seeking more information may send an email to


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