This photo essay is part of “We Are the Change,” a series telling the stories of local causes. View all the “We Are the Change” essays.
It took several years of fundraising, applying for licenses, finding a site to place a 90-foot transmission tower, and locating volunteers to provide on-air programming. But thanks to the persistence and creative problem-solving of a group of people dedicated to telling the story of the Mid-Valley and the people living in it, KMUZ 88.5 FM went on the air in 2012 — and has not looked back since.
KMUZ is the first, and only, listener-supported community radio station operating in the Mid-Valley vicinity. The 100 percent volunteer-run station offers up independent, non-commercial and distinctively local programming. Its mission is to celebrate and connect communities through locally-produced talk shows, information, music and events.
“We are a mirror, reflecting back to the community its pulse and identity,” says Melanie Zermer, KMUZ board president. “We are not influenced or run by any corporate restrictions. This is radio by and for the mid-Willamette Valley, free of censorship.”
The station acquired its license in 2011 only after raising the $45,000 necessary to meet complicated FCC requirements and deadlines. Fundraising remains essential to keeping the station on the air — to meet monthly expenses and to help KMUZ obtain a translator to increase the radio frequency and reach many more listeners.
Despite its initial limited airwave frequency, KMUZ was voted by Statesman Journal readers as the Mid-Valley’s Best Radio Station in 2012 and 2013, its first two years on the air.
The station’s diverse program schedule covers a wide array of musical genres — from funk to punk to symphonic music to Russian rock — and blends in talk shows focusing on eclectic and diverse topics.
Learn about local news, the challenge of aging successfully and parenting children with special needs. Throw in Oregon history, gardening, human and pet health, a teen book club, a program for techies and philosophy, and you’ll find there’s something for everyone — and endless ways to get involved in telling our community’s story.
Jennifer Carley, an original member of Salem Photo League, has shown and published her work in multiple venues. Formerly a labor and delivery nurse, she now works as a private practice psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.
Diane Beals is a freelance photographer who has been published several times while transitioning from 12 years of owning a portrait studio into documenting people’s everyday lives through street photography.