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KBCS General Manager: Important Updates

June 30, 2021 - 11:20 am

Dear Friends, Volunteers, and Supporters of KBCS,

I want to begin this important update by thanking all our active KBCS volunteer hosts and producers for your dedication, ingenuity, and creativity as we continue the final countdown to the end of the 20/21 fiscal year on June 30. I think we can all agree that this past year has been quite a challenge in many ways. The continuous improvements in the quality of the remote programs you are producing for KBCS is amazing. This letter is lengthy, but it contains important information for all KBCS volunteers so please take the time to read through this.
June is the last month of our fiscal year and is the busiest time of the work year for me even during normal times. Although this year has been everything but normal, there is still a great deal of work going on at KBCS as we close the books on this fiscal year while finalizing an equally ambitious budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

After being placed on financial probation by the college at the beginning of this fiscal year, we have collectively risen to the challenge of becoming an entirely self-supporting service of the college despite the pandemic shutdown and the loss of most all our underwriting revenue.

Notwithstanding the subsequent economic, political, and social fallout the pandemic shutdown created, this has been a remarkable year of fundraising for KBCS. The good news is that we expect to end this fiscal year solidly in the black and with a carryover surplus for the first time in many years. I am pleased to report that we are on track to reach our ambitious fundraising goal of generating $1.2 million dollars in total revenue over this past fiscal year. In addition to the generous financial support raised from our supporters and listeners, we received a substantial donation of $50,000.00 from an enthusiastic friend of KBCS that was deposited in a new investment fund for KBCS at the Bellevue College Foundation.

Over the past seven years of running consistently large budget deficits, the station was forced to defer investing in important capital improvement projects. That deferred maintenance in replacing and upgrading mission critical equipment finally reached the point where parts and service updates were simply no longer available. Our overall broadcast quality was negatively impacted by this outdated and poorly performing equipment. This only added to the other challenges that we were faced with over the past year.

Thanks to an emergency pandemic recovery grant provided to KBCS through the Biden Administration’s American Recovery Act, we have purchased two new high-tech Wheatstone console mixer boards; one for the KBCS on-air studio, and the other for the production studio in House 5. We expect these new boards to be delivered by the end of July. We are also making a significant capital improvement investment in both hardware and software upgrades of our station automation system and the replacement of other outdated broadcasting equipment.

Once completed, these capital improvement projects will greatly increase our operating efficiencies, improve the overall quality and consistency of both our on-air broadcast and online streaming outputs, and offer enhanced remote broadcasting capabilities.

During the past fiscal year, we have added an additional programming stream on our HD2 radio subchannel called World News Radio KBCS. This all-news and fine arts broadcast stream is programmed to appeal to an entirely different audience demographic than our traditional community radio format on KBCS FM. This HD2 channel is totally automated and features a 24-hour live satellite feed from the world-renowned BBC World Service in London as the programming base.

When you factor in the new satellite receivers and upgrades, and the digital transmitter that we installed last year, the major capital improvements that we have made over just the past year and a half at KBCS amounts to over $300,000.00. As a result of these important capital improvements, we have already increased the quality and efficiency of our broadcast outputs and are now reaching a larger potential audience with a much more consistently reliable signal. Most gratifying is that listeners are reporting that we are now heard more clearly throughout the greater Tacoma area. That is why we are now proudly adding Tacoma to our top of the hour legal ID.

It is important to note that funding for these capital improvement projects came from public and private grants and not from listener donations or from funding from the college. Our listener donations support our local programming and fixed operating expenses.

On another subject of interest to most of you, Bellevue College’s interim President, former Governor Gary Locke, has recently released a timeline for a return to a “new normalcy” for the Bellevue College campus. I have been waiting for this official announcement before updating you as to our re-entry plans at KBCS.

The colleges return-to-work plan calls for a gradual phase-in beginning this September through the end of December. Full normal operations are expected to begin with the Winter Quarter of 2022. Until then, the access restrictions currently in place on campus are still in effect.

I know many of you are anxious to return to the studios here on campus to produce your shows and access new music from our music library. However, access to the KBCS studios will remain limited and a controlled process of reopening the studios to volunteers and the public will take place in incremental phases over time.

For several weeks now, I have been working with Iaan and Gregory on a formal reopening plan for access to the KBCS facilities. What I can tell you now is that many of these details are still being worked out and our plan must be flexible and comply with all state and Bellevue College regulations. At this time, these re-entry plans still include social distancing requirements, the wearing of face masks, and no more than four people at any one time will be allowed access to House 5. All volunteers, students, and staff will be required to schedule their visits to the KBCS studios with station management in advance and you must complete a health survey form that is available online through a link on the Bellevue College homepage before entering campus. This online form must be completed every time you intend to visit campus for any reason.

For the immediate future, I expect no substantial changes in the restricted access currently in place. The logistics involved in the return to hosting live music programs at KBCS outside of our regular business hours is still under review. This precaution is necessary for both health and security reasons. Security issues at college and public radio stations have become even more important during this time of heightened political polarization and increased random acts of violence taking place across the country. We are taking necessary and proactive precautions to increase station security for the safety and wellbeing of everyone.

Please keep an eye out for further updates concerning station access as the evolving situation may warrant. Iaan and Gregory will soon be releasing additional information on a new volunteer music host onboarding procedure. Our news volunteers and student news interns will receive updates related to station access directly from Yuko.

All KBCS music hosts on either the current “active” or “non-active” volunteer lists will be required to complete several forms so that you can be officially registered as a college volunteer and issued a Bellevue College email address. This Bellevue College email address will be necessary for your access to important communications, online and cloud-based program access, mandatory training procedures, and new remote broadcasting processes.

And finally, you will also notice that we are making changes to keep our programming fresh and provide more opportunities for new volunteers as we seek to further diversify our entertainment programming offerings. We are actively seeking new volunteer hosts with original programming concepts to replace current volunteers that have retired or decided to move on. We will have more about that later. As students return to the Bellevue College campus, we intend to provide more on-air opportunities for them in both our news and music programming.

These programming changes are necessary so that the programming on KBCS remains representative of the larger and more diverse coverage area that we serve. That is what college community radio is all about. Providing a broadcast opportunity for people from all walks of life to share their passion for music, news, and life with their friends and neighbors is the core mission of community radio. Providing real world experience and enhanced professional training for our students is a core component of our academic mission.

Finally, if you have not already done so, please plan to get your COVID vaccination shot(s) as soon as possible. The more people that are vaccinated, the sooner a more normal version of life can resume for all of us. Here is a link to current information where you can get your free vaccination shot here in King County. Click on the hyperlink below or copy and paste this address into your browser:

In closing, thank you again for all you do for KBCS and in keeping the dream of true community radio alive here in the Greater Seattle metropolitan area. Please feel free to email your questions to me at and I will try to answer as many of them as I can.

As I said in a closing letter when we began this difficult fiscal year, “we can do this…”

Sometimes all it takes is having faith in ourselves and our companions as well as a determination to meet the difficult challenges we face through a more creative approach to problem solving, a positive mental attitude, and a true passion for something that is important in our lives and in the lives of others.

Dana Lee Buckingham

KBCS General Manager and Proud Sustaining Contributor to Community Radio KBCS.