Fundraiser will benefit Valley 104.9 radio station

The Hoedown at Remlinger Farms Brewery will be held Saturday, May 13, from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

Every week on his radio show, “Saturday Night Oldies,” Terry Spring sits behind a microphone and spins records from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, many of which have long been forgotten by major radio.

It’s the kind of program you could only find on something like Valley 104.9, a low-powered local radio station run by a handful of volunteers out of the Sno-Valley Senior Center in Carnation.

Since going on air seven years ago, the station has provided opportunities for local disc jockeys, political candidates and regular folks to speak to their community — something station volunteers say had long been missing in the lower Valley.

Yet, as they emerge from the pandemic, there are concerns about the station’s future. While not in a do-or-die situation quite yet, Spring said, they are getting to that point if additional funding doesn’t become available. If the station were to shut down, it would be difficult to restart, he said.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which issues radio station licenses, has not put out a call for new low-powered station applications in a decade. And “there’s been no indication of when that will happen again,” Spring said.

Without a license, the station’s broadcast radius would be limited to 200 feet, under FCC regulations. The station could still livestream from its website.

Volunteers at the station are determined to keep the station going. They’ve partnered with the Carnation Chamber of Commerce for a fundraiser — the station’s first in three years — at Remlinger Farms Brewery.

“We just want to promote local folks,” said Collienne Becker, a chamber board member who’s been working day and night to put the fundraiser together in a month’s time.

Spring, a retired audio engineer, spent decades working at media giant ION, but said it was his experience working for a small town station in Montana that showed him the impact of community radio.

“Everyone in the whole town was listening to you,” he said. “It really added to the sense of community.”

Although Spring acknowledges most residents don’t seem to know about the station, he sees it as one of a dwindling number of outlets for local information left in Carnation and rural King County.

Heather Stark, another 104.9 volunteer and newsradio veteran who spent her career at Kiro, Komo and other radio stations across the country, agreed.

There’s a need for more local outlets in the lower Valley to discuss issues facing the community, she said. Besides large floods or crime, both areas have often gotten little attention from Seattle-area media companies.

“Unless Carnation develops an ax murder, Komo and the Seattle Times aren’t going to come here,” she said. “But we care about what happens here.”

The decline of local media has been dramatic. A fifth of the country lives in a place with little to no local coverage, and some studies suggest that downturn is worse in rural areas. Around 67% of newspaper jobs in Washington were lost between 2005 and 2020, according to a report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology.

Studies have frequently established a correlation between the presence of local news to higher rates of political and social engagement, such as voting, volunteering or feeling a connection to your community.

On her show, “Valley Talk,” Stark often discusses issues facing the lower Valley. She has interviewed state legislators Bill Ramos and Mark Mullet, former Carnation Mayor Kim Lisk, State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, among others.

Stark has also lended her voice to “Three Women, Three Ways,” a talk show discussing feminism, social justice and gender equality.

There’s other benefits to local radio besides news too, Stark said. For one thing, Valley 104.9 is inclusive and available to the community. If you have an idea for a show, they can accommodate it.

“If you have an interest in old cars, we can make it happen,” she said.

Check it out

The Hoedown at Remlinger Farms Brewery — fundraiser for Valley 104.9 — will be held Saturday, May 13, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets are available at: