Bethel public radio station, KYUK, has selected the tribes of Kongiganak and Goodnews Bay as partners for building low power FM stations that would serve as repeaters for KYUK 640AM.
Once completed those stations would expand the KYUK broadcasting range to those coastal communities and possibly neighboring villages.
Located at the mouth of the Kuskokwim Bay, Kongiganak currently receives a weak 640 AM signal that varies greatly depending on weather conditions. The village of Goodnews Bay, located at the mouth of the Goodnews River, is surrounded by mountains and receives no signal.
KYUK’s goal is to eventually build low power stations in every YK Delta village that does not get a reliable signal. There are approximately 20 villages located along the coast and on the Lower Yukon that would qualify.
KYUK officials say both villages offer suitable locations to build transmission towers.
Low power stations have proven successful in the Kotzebue area where public radio station KOTZ reaches almost a dozen villages.
KYUK estimates the cost of building a low power station to be roughly $18,000, but the cost would rise to just over $30,000 if villages want to build a simple studio that would allow them to create their own programming.
A low power station in Kongiganak could reach Kwigillingok and possibly Tuntutuliak and Kipnuk. Goodnews Bay’s station could reach Platinum and Quinhagak.
KYUK encouraged more than 20 villages to apply. They gave strong consideration to Tooksook (TOOK-sook) Bay but did not choose the village for the pilot because that site would likely be more expensive and challenging.They say Tooksook Bay will be a priority village though, for future sites.
KYUK hopes the low power stations in Kongiganak (Kong-ig-NAWK) and and Goodnews Bay will be operational by December of 2015.