VoV to install radio tower atop Heights Water tank

This diagram shows the radio coverage the first and second towers provide, as well as the coverage a third tower will provide once its location is secured. - Courtesy photo
This diagram shows the radio coverage the first and second towers provide, as well as the coverage a third tower will provide once its location is secured.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Voice of Vashon has signed a lease with Heights Water, a private

mutual water association that serves the north end of Vashon, to affix a radio antenna to the top of one of the association’s water tanks.

This will be the second of three radio transmitters for Voice of Vashon Standing By, the station that broadcasts 24 hours a day from the offices of Voice of Vashon (VoV) at Sunrise Ridge.

The new tower will be placed at the Heights Water “tank farm” on Vashon Highway at Cedarhurst Road. A tripod will be epoxied to the tank, with the radio transmitter at the top of the tripod.

Each radio antenna puts out a 10-watt signal, “less powerful than the bulb in the lamp you’re sitting next to,” said Jeff Hoyt, VoV’s emergency broadcasting coordinator.

This means the towers can’t project their AM waves long distances — the Sunrise Ridge tower signal can only reach 60 percent of the Island.

The Heights Water location was “ideal,” Hoyt said.

“We’ve worked very hard and for a long time to make this happen,” said Rick Wallace, a VoV board member and VashonBePrepared’s vice president for plans and operations. “There was a vision years ago, when the original founders of Voice of Vashon started out, that it would be bigger than music. And it’s hard to imagine anything that would be a bigger service to the community than an emergency radio station.”

VoV Standing By broadcasts a repeating 15-minute loop of information pertinent to Island travelers, unless there is a transportation issue — or something larger.Then, the station will switch to a bulletin with the latest information.

Wallace said many Islanders are unwilling to take the advice of disaster preparedness organization VashonBePrepared (VBP) — such as stockpiling 10 days of food and water — and in the event of an emergency, would be highly reliant on an emergency broadcasting system.

“There’s no way that you could help people know where to go, and what to do and how to take care of their families in a crisis unless they have information,” he said.

VBP promotes and financially supports the radio station by giving it some of the grants VBP receives from King County. A significant portion of VoV Standing By’s funding has come by way of VBP’s efforts on its behalf.

A structural engineer has designed VoV Standing By’s second tower to be completely wind-resistent, Hoyt said. Island artist and welder Mark Bennion will create the metal tripod to which the radio antenna will be epoxied.

Hoyt said he is currently searching for a location for the third tower, hopefully in the upper Dockton area.

Mary Ann Stipp of Heights Water released this statement about the new arrangement: “The Heights Water Board of Trustees is pleased to provide an antenna site to expand reception for Voice of Vashon’s community broadcasting to the north end of our Island.”

“When the big one hits and people turn on the radio, this is our way to help them,” Wallace said.

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