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New radio station debuts in Fall City

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FALL CITY - The area's newest radio station is broadcasting out of Fall City, but it is based out of Olympia and Aberdeen.

KCFL (104.5 FM), which went on the air on April 18, is a low-powered radio station that can be heard in the Snoqualmie Valley.

"I really don't think anyone has done something like this before," said Kacie Sommers, one of station's disc jockeys.

The station is the joint effort of Sommers and the station's engineer, Sandi Woodruff. Both women have a storied past and passion for radio that has taken them all over the U.S. and got them together to start a small station in the Valley.

Woodruff's first career in radio was as a station engineer in Los Angeles in the 1970s. While women had been in the workplace for some time, it was still uncommon to have a woman in radio, especially doing the technical work. Although she worked at one of the biggest radio stations in Los Angeles, Woodruff said she had a hard time finding work in Seattle and had to fight off a couple of inappropriate comments from men in the business.

Like Woodruff, Sommers started out as a woman in what was a kind of boys club in radio. Sommers had grown up loving music and was told she should get into radio while working for an answering service in Kirkland. In 1976, at the age of 19, Sommers went on the air at KJR in Seattle and became the first female rock station disc jockey in town.

"There were soft, sexy [female] voices on the radio, but not in rock 'n' roll," Sommers said.

Sommers continued to work in radio with stints around the western part of the country. She came back to KJR when its FM station was launched again and then took some time off to raise her three daughters. After settling in Aberdeen, she got back into radio.

Sommers met Woodruff while checking out low-powered FM stations. The two hit it off immediately and started to work on getting their own station up and running. Woodruff, who had experience working on other low-powered FM stations, applied for a broadcast license and waited for approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

It took awhile to get the FCC approval, but once that was taken care of, getting a signal to people's radios in the Valley was the next obstacle. Broadcasting in the Valley is challenging because of the area's terrain. Rolling, tree-covered hills make reception fuzzy and the station is presently broadcasting at a power of only eight watts. Woodruff said the reception is good from Fall City up to Redmond and Samammish, but Snoqualmie and North Bend may have a hard time listening. The station is working to get the wattage up to 100 in the next couple of weeks, which will make the signal better. Also, the station is working to get its programming on the air in Seattle on 97.7 FM.

Being miles away from the station's transistor is no problem thanks to computers, Woodruff said. All of the station's programming can be done digitally on computers. Programming will be a mix of news from the area and music that Sommers is interested in. A recent play list had Tina Turner, John Mayer and Maroon 5 as bands featured on the station.

"If I don't like or understand the music, I won't play it," Sommers said.

Sommers said she would like to highlight some of the news in the Snoqualmie Valley. After living in Aberdeen, Sommers said she developed an appreciation of small-town life and would like the station to be part of the community in the Valley.

Although she is located more than a hundred miles away, Sommers said a station can be build a strong relationship between itself and the community it serves. She said the best part of being in radio has been the friends she has made and she is looking to find many new friends in the Valley.

"In a small town, everybody's your friend," Sommers said. "Let us know what is going on [in the Valley]. Give us a holler."

* For more information about KCFL, visit http://cflfm.com.

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