April No Fooling!: A Powerful Month

Whether it was the Solar Flares or the effects from another Mercury Retrograde our KONA 100.5 LPFM radio station was not immune. The net result was that we had to send back our transmitter to the manufacturer in San Diego for a repair under warranty. It was received by them on Thursday, April 12th.

In the meantime, this development sets the stage for an ideal time to initiate the placement and construction of our Solar Energy Project. With assistance from our own DJ ‘the Guvna’ and Hot Stuff Engineering, the rather large #1600 battery pack was able to be placed on wheels in preparation for placement near our station’s broadcast facility starting this week.

#1600 12 – 12 Volt Battery Pack and Charger

The time and method for charging this battery is initially expected to be about 2 weeks. Enough time to allow for the placement of the Solar panels to be laid out on a grid atop of our broadcast housing.

It will be augmented with a Pure Sine Wave Inverter upon completion of the layout. The final stages of this project will involve securing a Voltage regulator along with the necessary Cables to make the connections.

As was the case back in January when it became necessary to take one step back (by upgrading our Shoutcast server) in order to take 2 or 3 steps forward, this is a very exciting time towards improving our facility over the long haul. It has, after all, been part of our original vision to run the entire station purely on Solar Power for the purpose of saving on the costs of Electricity and for securing a stable and uninterrupted broadcast 24/7.

While these improvements are being put into place, we will continue to broadcast on our Internet shoutcast at RadioAlchemyKONA.com

We also have a big day coming up on April 28th when the next chapter of Electric Beach Ball takes place from sunrise to sunset down at Kohanaiki (aka Pine Trees). Radio Alchemy is planning to broadcast from this event as well as from Out the Box at Mybar later than evening. Hopefully, by that time we do have our FM facility back broadcasting to our KONA Community.

Another goal that we have set for ourselves during this quarter is to secure a total of 6 more DJ’s by June 30th and have them trained and ready to broadcast by that time. If anyone is interested in securing a show, please complete the following DJ Registration Form and provide the necessary information to us.

Thank you for helping to support your Community Radio Station – KONA 100.5 LPFM.

March for KONA (Shoes / ‘Slippahs’ Optional)

This Friday, March 9th around 11 AM will mark exactly 1 year since KONA 100.5 first made it’s connection with the LPFM radio world. It was like our very own moon landing after all it was ‘the project’ for the better part of 4 years and even 10 years dating back to days at KCOF which was also very much influential in the project. The entire construction process needed to be wrapped up with our final application due to be completely submitted by March 12th (which it was). Then on March 27th, we received approval from the FCC that we were officially an FM station.

So the month of March will forever be entwined within our roots and it is already taking shape to perhaps take us to that next level as we pursue our quest for long term and reliable solar power to keep our station on the air 24/7. There is still a multitude of hills to climb (such as the potential for an FM repeater) but we feel very grounded and honored by the many events, people and processes that have become part of our evolution.

Being able to re-broadcast from the Govinda show recently at Hilo’s Palace Theater made me reflect on the earliest days of capturing events live from sites on location such as Earthdance and even on Maui at the Mystic Gatherings.

How far we have moved forward in this past year with our LPFM station. We now have a structure in place whereby shows can be submitted thru a google drive online and rebroadcast easily on either of our two websites which feed our FM station. Such is the case with this past weekend’s 12th Avocado Festival organized and sponsored by the “Sanctuary of Mana Ke’a Gardens” which KONA 100.5 LPFM is linked to as part of our LPFM Charter.

Radio Alchemy now is broadcast on a nightly basis from 7 pm til 1 AM. It has many plans ahead to allow DJ’s to take part in our programming from not just Kona, but from around other parts of the island as well. It was part of the original vision for us to be able to expand our format in this way with 3 – 2 hour shows 7 days a week.

In time, we hope that podcasting can also be in the works for shows to replay by our audience at their own convenience. Also, we hope soon to be able to post calendars of events and community forums to become even more interactive.

So as we march into year #2 for LPFM, we hold these visions inspired by the Alchemy around us. There has been so very much of that magic in recent times which we are very grateful for amidst all the chaos that may be happening around us. Please allow this community to embrace and partake in our project. Now is the time for our awakening!

State of KONAtion Address

Since the start of 2018, Radio Alchemy has been hard at work updating its online streaming server (aka shoutcaster). We are now back streaming 24/7 on this website and have found it to be very reliable. After several trials, we were able to get it working once again on our website.

At the same time KONA has upgraded to programmable Radio DJ software that will allow for content to be scheduled at specific times along with playlists and other useful tools to help promote community events such as the Women’s March which we broadcast from live on January 21st. These recordings were then edited and played back on air at different times throughout the past month.

The civil defense ‘drill/not-a-drill” became a front and center controversey as we received a notice on our EAS (Emergency Alert System) that authorities have issued a “Civil Defense Warning” for all of Hawaii beginning at 8:07 am on the morning of January 13, 2018. It had gone out to the public that a “Ballistic Missile Threat” was “Inbound to Hawaii”. “Seek Immediate Shelter” “This is Not a Drill”

What better time to break out an Exclamation Point! After all the frenzy subsided and the story of a wrong button being pushed, it was a reminder that our EAS unit accounting for more than 1/3 of the cost of the LPFM project was still unpaid on a credit card. This unit is required by the Federal Communications Commission as part of the LPFM licensing process.

The real news in this case however is that this public system is designed for use by the federal government. It is not being financed 1 penny by those who print our dollars. Wouldn’t it only be fair that a matching grant be provided which would allow us to divert some of this cost towards a repeater that would improve our coverage area (even for this potential emergency purpose)?

Last week, a letter was written to our Congress Woman Tulsi Gabbard expressing this concern to bring it to her attention.

Now while I recognize there is a practical use for this program to be in place, I see it very much a part of the Federal system that takes control of the airwaves thru the equipment that they require. LPFM’s have difficulty generating revenue. Especially where we are also not allowed to advertise. We can use “underwriting” as a surrogate method to acknowledge contributions from local businesses. But this runs counter to what most owners typically think of when they are seeking conventional advertisements on the radio.

It really drives home the point that whereas we are a community radio station with a lot of flexibility for broadcasting from nearly anywhere, there just are not a lot of options in terms of expansion unless we receive listener sponsorships or underwriting from participating businesses.

Some have asked why it is that a clear signal cannot be reached within ‘the dish’ where Kailua-Kona sinks down inward towards the ocean on Alii Drive. The two variables are 1) strength of signal (we’re limited to 100 watts) and 2) line-of-sight FM signal which is obstructed due to the rapid decline of our terrain to sea level plus the buildings and power lines which also create interference.

We feel that with a repeater placed strategically in Holualoa… a stronger, more direct signal can be reproduced (or replicated) and we would cover what is a partial dead zone for us. For the moment, funding for this expansion project is our main limitation.

Now that all our systems are in place, we would like to extend this offer to businesses (and individuals):

Introductory Business Special II

A Winter Wonderland for 2018

Gifting a Voice to our KONA Community in the New Year

It’s been some time since our previous newsletter was last posted. We would first like to acknowledge a few major accomplishments in 2017 that have placed KONA 100.5 LPFM in the position of adding a voice to our community and to make a difference in our lives.

In March of 2017, Three events made possible where we are today:

March 9: Our first ever connection to FM radio was established.
March 12: KONA 100.5 completed the construction of our radio station with help from a handful of businesses which appear on our Sponsors Page
March 27: Our LPFM license is officially granted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

So many events have led us to this point. Few may realize that it was this 4 year process that enabled us to broadcast as an FM station. It is a unique opportunity for our community to take part in this project as we grow further. No more windows for construction of LPFM radio stations are likely to happen for years to come.

Currently, we are involved in 3 major projects that will enhance our programming and allow the entire Big Island to participate.

SOLAR PROJECT – In an effort to cut costs and apply our financial resources directly to our project, we are attempting to run our 24/7 broadcast station completely using solar power. This is important not only for environmental and budget reasons, but using this solar power will also assist in keeping us on the air even during times that our electric grid power is unavailable such as what happened last week in the Kona Palisades area when a vehicle accident knocked off power to this area.

AUTOMATED RADIO DJ SOFTWARE – Fortunately, thanks to the internet… there is exceptional open source software available (for free) that is frequently used in automated programming of radio stations world wide. The only caveat was learning how to use it. A culmination of research and testing took place since Summer of 2017 to use the best features of this Radio DJ program. Many of these will be introduced in the early part of 2018. It is being paired with remote control programs so that our content (such as contributed material from our community) can be scheduled for broadcast. All the tools are now in place to implement this program.

EXPANDING OUR BROADCAST FACILITY – No, this is not about building a huge broadcast studio (though a reasonable size one is on our wish list). One of the unique qualities of internet radio is that our shows can be broadcast from anywhere on the island. This expands our ability to engage with other communities outside of Kona. The internet radio system that was developed in the first 3 years of operation can now be placed in communities such as Hamakua, Kohala, South Kona, Kau, Hilo and Puna to connect us together which has never been attempted before on the level that we anticipate will happen this upcoming year.

Among other vision quests for 2018 is the possibility of installing a repeater somewhere (such as Holualoa) that can expand our signal to other areas that are compromised by the contour of our land with buildings and power lines which interfere with our FM signal. With financial support, this can happen fairly quickly. We are seeking private donations to help recover some of the costs of our initial installation but more importantly, to build this repeater. We recognize that without it, there are certain areas in Kona which are not properly being reached. It is our intent to change that with help from individuals and our business community. Underwriting is a term that is associated LPFM stations to promote their supporting business establishments.

Here is an Underwriting Rate Sheet which  shows how you or your business can help to support KONA 100.5 LPFM.

We also have some eco-friendly T-shirts now available for $20 each in Small, Medium, Large and XL sizes.  Below are some samples:

Please Email us:  RadioAlchemyKONA@gmail.com if you wish to order.

To our entire community on the Big Island we would like to wish you a very Happy New Year 2018 and invite you to participate in our station in this upcoming year!  Please contact us at that same email above or join our  Radio Alchemy Facebook Page    Mahalo!

Michael Sofranko

Radio Alchemy – Founder

 

Construction

Radio Alchemy is actively engaged in it’s pursuit to partner with KONA 100.5 LPFM as it proceeds with its plans to build a Low Power FM Radio station in Kailua-Kona
Upon completion of the Construction of the FM station, Radio Alchemy will assume the 7 PM to 1 AM portion of the KONA Schedule 7 days a week. Each evening will feature DJ’s from throughout the Big Island of Hawaii which will broadcast from 7 zones around the Island. These areas include North and South Kona, Hawi/Kohala, Hamakua, Hilo, Puna and Ka’u/Ocean View. Each day the 6 hours of programming will be comprised of 3 – 2 hour slots. We hope to involve enough participation that each area will be represented and will have it’s own weekly regional report whether it be current events or its community calendar. Continue reading Construction