On Aug. 5, SPARK Radio KMRE 102.3 FM began broadcasting from its new transmitter on top of the historic Herald building.
The new location gives the community radio station a larger range and improves the local signal in the greater Whatcom County area, according to KMRE general manager Suzanne Blais.
KMRE 102.3 is 10 years old, and for much of that time the broadcast transmitter has been located at the top of the Faithlife building at Bay and Prospect streets.
“We consider ourselves fortunate that two of the pillars of downtown Bellingham believe in and support community radio and thank both Faithlife for their continued support, and Daylight Properties and Pogozone for helping us grow and improve,” Blais says.
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KMRE has steadily upgraded its studio inside the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention, at 1312 Bay St., over the last year and more than doubled the amount of local programming that’s broadcast, as well as tweaked the daily playlist to include more current music, news and information, and local talk and discussion format radio shows.
The original focus of KMRE was to recreate a station from the early days of radio, said John Jenkins, president and CEO of SPARK Museum, in an interview in 2014.
Subsequently, the station’s purpose became to produce programming that “entertains, enriches, informs, inspires, educates and respond to community needs,” he said.
“We have local shows such as ‘Decades of Jazz’ with former Herald reporter John Stark, ‘Artifacts from the Psychedelic Dungeon’ and the ‘Rockin’ Surfer Show’ that bring a variety of music to the community,” said Robert Clark, a volunteer with KMRE who acts as programming manager for the station.
KMRE also encourages local radio dramas including local favorites “Midnight Mystery Players,” “Viking Radio Theatre” (student-produced from Western Washington University), “Chuckanut Radio Hour” (a Village Books-sponsored variety show that started on KMRE nearly 10 years ago), and the recently launched weekly horror-drama-comedy “Bellingham Terror” (a serial set in 1935 Bellingham, written by Riley and Brynna Sweeney).
Those interested in trying their hand at community radio by being a DJ, a producer, or a volunteer with KMRE can sign up at kmre.org.