It Takes a Village: Our Time Has Come! KONA 100.5 LPFM v2.0

As of Wednesday May 30th, our transmitters are back up and running once again. The Emergency Alert System has been tested twice… once for the normal first of the month testing on June 1st, then again on June 3rd after an earthquake alert was sounded. Fortunately, no tsunami was generated.

During these critical times of change taking place on the Big Island, it is becoming more apparent of the need for FM communications that are free from the confines of the electrical grid and even from Internet Service which we rely on heavily. About 2 weeks ago, our very large #1600 battery was put in place from which we intend to power our KONA radio station. In the upcoming weeks, necessary connections and preparations are being made to bring this project to completion.

It took the combined efforts of both Waikoloa Woodworks and Big Island Electric to secure this battery plus the detailed work of Andrew Pope and “Hot Stuff Engineering” to create the framework for this large battery to assist with its placement and charging. This is a major project and one that has been the focus of our efforts for sometime. Thank you once more to all those who are participating in these efforts to make our community radio station self sustaining.

Also thank you to Michael Burnham of Ka Lae Garden Thai Restaurant down in Ocean View for the donation towards the cost of repair for our equipment. Also to Joe Limbus from Liber Limbia whose show is heard every Saturday only on RadioAlchemyKONA.com from 2 til 6 PM (Hawaii Standard Time).

We are very much needing to cover the remaining costs for the repairs and shipping of the transmitter as outlined in last months newsletter. Checks are gratefully accepted at KONA – 100.5 LPFM and we will be setting up a gofundme page shortly here as well.

Plans are now in place to really take this station to the next level. Of course, in order to do this… it will take the participation from within our community. We extend this invitation to all who can assist in the following areas:

  • Website Design & Integration
  • Audio Production
  • File Maintenance & Archiving
  • Fundraising & Promotion
  • Radio DJ Participation & Broadcasting
  • With special emphasis on the final item above, we are now happy to invite those wishing to come on board to get set up for doing weekly or even monthly shows from all over the Big Island (not exclusive to only Kona). All the tools are now in place to get you started including several training videos set up on the DJ page of this website.

    We also wish to Live Broadcast from events on the Hilo side of the island similar to what we will be doing this Friday, June 8th from MyBar in Kona: “Who’s Funk’n In Da House?”

    An application form is available at this link so we can introduce you to this wonderful opportunity. Aloha!

    May the Force (Pele) be With Us!

    On May 4th in Puna on the Big Island, a surrealistic event transpired that will be remembered for decades to come. It was the first of multiple eruptions which took place in the Leilani Estates subdivision which created spectacular and at times very dangerous conditions for our Puna family. This is not a singular event but rather an ever changing evolution of our landscape here on this wonderful island. Though one event did stand out – a 6.9 magnitude Earthquake around noon on Friday, 5/4. It was the largest quake on record since 1975 some 43 years ago.

    Somewhere amidst this framework, our own Voice of KONA – 100.5 LPFM is undergoing its own series of alterations and adjustments. Our transmitter is under repair with the manufacturer in San Diego. Meanwhile, we are currently preparing for what will be our Solar Energy System which will provide this same transmitter with a continuous source of power.

    Metaphorically speaking, we are very much in harmony with the creative chaos that is ensuing at these very moments in time. This is an absolute necessity for the perpetuity of the project and was always very much a planned part of it from the very beginning. Similar to the volcanic activity, the manner in which this was to take place was somewhat unclear until now. This path is ensuring that our community can come forward to create new channels of communication unlike any other preceding it. Similar to how our land mass is expanding on this Big Island.

    Currently, our focus is on proceeding with both projects (recovery and expansion) so that they may be conjoined later on this month or next at the very latest. By doing so, we hope to be able to divert our resources away from costly electric bills and into the improvement of our coverage area and quality of broadcast.

    Edit: As of May 25th, the transmitter is back on island and is expected to be delivered today to our facility. We apologize for the delay in getting our transmission up and working again. This was an essential time to refocus as well as make the necessary adjustments to our equipment. We are now prepared for our next phase for our radio station which is using solar power to broadcast. Below is a copy of the repair invoice which we are requesting help with from our business community and private individuals who wish to help with the upkeep and maintenance of this very worthy community project.

    At the same time, our very large #1600 battery is now in place and ready to be charged. A big Mahalo to all who have contributed to making this happen for us…special thanks to Andrew Pope of “Hot Stuff Engineering” for putting wheels on this project…literally. Also to Jason Stabler as well as Mike Codie of Waikoloa Woodworks for providing us with both this battery and the materials to assist with its placement.

    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