Once upon a time, in 1994 to be exact, the Rogue Valley Fair Share put on a grand Multicultural Fair in Medford, Oregon. The event encompassed Hawaiian Hula dancers, a Mexican mariachi band, African dance and cultural demonstrations, Native American veterans and Pow Wow dancers in full regalia. A dream emerged from the community’s excitement about this rich cultural exchange to create a Multicultural Association. That organization took the lead in recreating the Multicultural Fair in Medford for the next 9 years.
In 2000 the Multicultural Association of Southern Oregon was approached by a group of people who wanted to hear Democracy Now on local radio. A rare window of opportunity had emerged. The FCC offered low power construction permits for radio stations. The Multicultural Association recognized the opportunity and KSKQ (K-Siskiyou), as a local community radio station was conceived.
Its mission would be to build on the cultural diversity and exchange of ideas in the Rogue Valley and beyond. KSKQ would seek to support the creation of resilient communities through locally produced radio programs that provided programming for diverse peoples who would not normally have access to the airwaves—a public good. KSKQ would also put a focus on local musicians, story tellers and other creative voices. The station’s vision included mentorship, training, and support for local community groups of all ages in the creation of their own radio programs.
In December of 2004, the Multicultural Association received permission to build the low power radio station from the FCC. The following summer, KSKQ began streaming over the internet from a cubby hole on A Street in Ashland, Oregon. It took three more years for the KSKQ volunteer staff to build an antenna and formally begin broadcasting at 100 watts in 2007 at 94.9 FM.
Due to the mountainous terrain of the Rogue Valley, making it impossible to hear KSKQ in Ashland, a new antenna location became necessary. As serendipity would have it, in 2008, the FCC offered full power permits, which KSKQ applied for and received. KSKQ volunteers worked with the property owner, a local businesswoman, to build the radio tower on a retired wooden forest fire lookout tower on the mountain top. Volunteers spent the summer digging trenches through solid rock for electrical grounding, in case of lightning strike, and up to the transformer. The drama was heightened as snow began to fall and we ran out of propane. Amazingly, the propane company driver and owner braved the dangerous slippery rocky climb to fill the tank one more time, giving the fledgling station 19 more days of broadcast before it would be silent till spring. An agreement was reached with the cell company and—during a storm--an electrical contractor was able to hook KSKQ to power. KSKQ 89.5 FM was solidly broadcasting over the air! Fast forward in time and KSKQ can now be heard throughout Jackson County, half-way to Klamath Falls, and as far south as Weed, California, broadcasting at 560 watts from Table Mountain directly east of Ashland at 6000 feet elevation., A translator (heard at 94.1 FM) was obtained in 2017 to give a better signal into downtown Medford. The Multicultural Association of Southern Oregon holds a non-commercial educational (NCE) license for KSKQ, which is only granted to non-profits.
Program offerings include an eclectic mixture of syndicated news and cultural radio programs not heard on any commercial radio station in Southern Oregon, as well as locally-produced music and talk shows.
KSKQ holds its designation as a “community radio station” very sacred. It provides an electronic megaphone to individuals and organizations that might otherwise be shut out of the mainstream corporate media as they strive to get their important messages out. Community organizations are invited to the station to be interviewed or even train them so they can create their own programs.
KSKQ is active in the community in other ways. Twice a year volunteers provide a seven-week class, “Hands-on Radio,” for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). KSKQ participates in the Ashland Fourth of July parade and the Science Works Museum Maker Fest. Volunteers table at many community activities; they record or broadcast live directly from the events of sister community organizations. Programming on KSKQ is as diverse as the community and world we live in.
KSKQ is sustained by donations from listeners, business underwriting, income from fundraising events and foundation grants. KSKQ boasts about 80 volunteers. At the moment it has no employees, but contracts with individuals to provide basic management services. In 2019 the Multicultural Association began a partnership with a local internet service provider to offer businesses and individuals secure internet and phone services which will eventually provide an income stream to the station as sisq.net grows.
KSKQ is pleased to invite you to listen to home-grown and syndicated conversation and music at 89.5 FM Ashland and 94.1 FM Medford, Oregon and from all over the planet at www.kskq.org.