What do Harry Shearer, Sojourner Truth, Molly Ivins, Richard Wolff, Davey D and Sonali Kohatkar have in common? You can hear them all on Olympia’s low power radio station, KOWA 106.5. They’re on along with a spectrum of voices and views that can enlighten, entertain, and enrage you throughout the day—and that is the true definition of diversity; something you don’t get from radio that pretends to be diverse but in reality confines itself within a narrow range of orthodoxy (NPR anyone?).
The 13-year old Olympia-based station has upped its game in the past few months, with 24-hour public affairs programming that reaches across the country and even into the past to bring listeners a variety of perspectives on dozens of different topics. The station is a project of Media Island International, operating out of quarters on Adams Street, with new energy coming from station manager Shawna Hawk and a team of dedicated programmers and technicians.
The programmers are revamping the schedule, looking to the community, to the internet and to Pacifica archives for inspiration. You can see their Arts Walk action in a video on the KOWA website, but they’ve also hung out at Rainy Day Records, TESC and elsewhere in search of ideas and volunteers to become part of the station. Events at Media Island also provide an opportunity for people in the community to find KOWA, and for KOWA to find new listeners.
Shawna Hawk and Jamie Madison point to several programs that illustrate the new efforts –
- current and breaking news with Flashpoints, Between the Lines, Sea Change news with an environmental edge; Sojourner Truth, and many others
- political analysis like Tim Wise on “Trumpism “ (“he really breaks it down”); “Hard Knock Radio” where host Davey D gets guests like Mos Def, Saul Williams, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney to tell more of their stories than usual; Rising Up with Sonali (a favorite)
- women’s rights on Feminist Hour and Women’s Magazine, plus a new segment on “progressive masculinity,” that includes “Tough Guise” featuring conversations about rape culture and the media, because “we’re all in this together.”
- science programs including Bioneers, Quirks and Quarks, Planet Watch, Mayo Clinic radio and more you’ve never heard of!
- plus music (a local show “Vibralizing” with DJ Hawk plays every other Saturday); spoken word (another local segment, “The Word” after 10 when the FCC’s asleep), culture (First Voices), history (even Thomas Jefferson?!) – and this list doesn’t tell you the half of it.
You must go to the KOWA website programming page to get the full richness. Or, better yet, turn your dial to 106.5 and just let a new piece of the world in. If you can’t tune in KOWA on your car radio or at home (its range is downtown and the immediately adjacent neighborhoods—on the westside it’s audible til about the intersection of Cooper Point and Black Lake), you can go to the website and click “listen online” for the streaming source.