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Media Politics: Olympia’s Noncommercial Radio Menagerie

As Olympia gains a new LPFM station and a simulcast of Seattle's KEXP, local listeners will have a remarkable four choices for noncommercial, progressive public affairs and independent music. How will all these listener-supported stations all find financial sustainability in the area? Will KEXP's professional DJs attract listeners away from the homegrown students and activists at the other stations?

Olympia's location at the southern dregs of Puget Sound, separated from metropolises to the north and south, limits its access to some of the great community media coming out of Seattle and Portland. The city's smaller size has left its radio airwaves relatively uncrowded by comparison; making it remarkable that fans of noncommercial radio and progressive news programs like Democracy Now! and Free Speech Radio News are already well-served by local broadcasts. Evergreen's 1500-watt KAOS (89.3fm) is king of noncommercial community broadcasting in the area, and there's also the scrappy pirates at Free Radio Olympia (91.3fm), broadcasting a daily schedule of public affairs and often-exciting music.

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