Our Local Radio Station Brings Community Together

Allow me to share some of my key learnings over the last year about the magic of Voice of Vashon.

  • Thursday, April 29, 2021 5:20pm
  • Opinion
Kate Dowling

Kate Dowling

I must be honest. Before I became Executive Director for the Voice of Vashon, I did not know much about The Voice of Vashon.

I knew about the blinky-blink emergency alert signs on the island and switched my car radio to 1650AM when they were on. I went to fun VoV events. I donated a few bucks here and there to the people selling raffle tickets during Strawberry Fest just so maybe they could hit their quota for the day and go have a beer… or to the people out in front of Thriftway, walking around wearing sandwich boards when I just could not figure out a way to avoid them.

But I didn’t really get what VoV was all about.

Please allow me to share with you a few of my key learnings over the last year about the magic of this mighty community organization.

Did you know VoV has been around since 1999? They have been partying like it is 1999 ever since with more than 80 shows made by islanders for islanders. Here is just a smattering of what we offer live (or on-demand at your leisure on the ‘Shows Tab’ on voiceofvashon.org or our app):

  • Talk shows that inform and connect us to our community such as ‘REALTalk’ with Susan McCabe, where ‘curiosity chases truth’ with a wide variety of guests and topics (I learn something every show!); the long-running ‘Brown Briefly’, with humorous observations on topical news. New shows like Dr. Steven Nourse’s ‘IsAbled’ that takes a hard and hopeful look into the lives of people with disabilities and ‘The Klatch’ — three amazing women free-wheeling about anything and everything, with love, laughs and reality. One episode, ‘The Boob Show’ brought me to tears with frank conversation about dealing with breast cancer.
  • Music shows with literally something for everyone. Just try sitting still during David Hunter’s ‘Disco Obscuro’, Rik Reed’s long-standing ‘Back in the Stacks’, ‘The Whiskey Jim Radio Hours’ with Jim Marsh spinning the 10 p.m. dance party every Friday night and ‘Dance Time’. Get your groove on. Great tunes on long-standing ‘Broadway Baby.’ ‘Voltaire’s Vault’ with 50’s and 60’s tunes is one of my parent’s favs and keeps me going when I’m pulling blackberries. Do you like country or Bluegrass? Check out ‘Boogie Back to Texas’ and ‘Big Lonesome Radio’. From blues to Balkan, Reggae, Soul, Jazz and Alternative Rock. We got that. Anytime. You. Want. Just like your favorite playlist.
  • Bill Reid’s ‘Alternative Vashon’ — who you may remember from his Seattle radio days on the End in the 90s; ‘Music in the Movies’ with Robert Horton, a member of the National Society of Film Critics. Tara Morgan’s ‘Dear Vashon’, with crowd-sourced music and guest DJs celebrating community and the ever-popular ‘Count the Subarus’ segment with Michael and Shelley on the Morning Scramble.
  • Shows that highlight extraordinary nonprofits like The Heritage Museum’s ‘History Worth Hearing’ and the Dove Project with ‘Dove Speaks’ or ‘The Home Series Radio Plays’ with Vashon Repertory Theatre.
  • VoV has TV! Shows like ‘Look, Listen and Learn’ educational and entertaining programming for BIPOC preschoolers; ‘Talks from the Rock’ and shows rebroadcast from our incredible arts center and O Space. Megan Hasting’s Cooking Show from the Snapdragon with tips and tricks to help you fix your family meal. Comcast channel 21.
  • Public Service Announcements crafted by Bill Wood, a former Hollywood TV movie writer, and voiced by Jeff Hoyt, a celebrity voice talent who does real commercials and audiobooks and stuff!

Did you know that our volunteers pour their hearts into curating these entertaining and informational shows and services and do it in their free time? In real life, these creative people are marketers, musicians, doctors, station engineers for KIRO and pilots(!) Many also donate even more of their time to several other nonprofits like VashonBePrepared, Vashon Centre for the Arts, VIPP, The Vashon Heritage Museum just to name a few.

Did you know that we have an amazing team of technical talent who creates broadcasting wizardry to produce things like COVID town halls, public meetings, live sports broadcasts and live coverage of events and parades for the community?

And this brings me back to the blinky-blink sign.

Many islanders know us for the Emergency Alert System which provides vital information, keeping islanders informed and safe. From COVID vaccine information to closed bridges (ugh!), the Emergency Alert System is the backbone of our organization. This incredible team has been led by Luke McQuillan for over eight years. Ellen Johnson, Rick Wallace, Michael Golen-Johnson, Hugh Turner, Jim Roy, and Lydia Agular-Bryan (who skillfully translates alerts for our Spanish-speaking community) work tirelessly to create alerts for you 24/7. Yes, often at 4 a.m.

Suffice it to say I have learned a ton this past year. About boards with buttons, mics and cables, generators and antennae. But most importantly about the people that keep this organization running — talented producers, hard-working volunteers and board, the businesses and donors that support VoV with love and dollars so we can pay for the tech and the equipment that keeps us doing what we do for you. And now hopefully, you know a bit more about VoV.

My biggest a-ha? Just how special and rare it is to have our very own local radio station that brings our community together. Just like community newspapers. Rare. Special. Our own.

Oh, and when you see people out in front of Thriftway again one day, say hi. They don’t bite.

Kate Dowling has lived on Vashon for six years and hangs out at The Burton Coffee Stand. A lot.

VoV is the GiveBIG Headquarters again this year. On May 4 and 5, VoV hosts a live on-air event when our island nonprofits will share their mission and stories of love from across our community. We call it the Hub O’ Love because that is what it is. With so many awe-inspiring nonprofits and volunteers, we are proud to amplify their amazing voices. Listen in live and GiveBIG.


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