Voice of Vashon Keeps Us Connected

Just one generation ago we had neither community radio nor an emergency alert service.

  • Wednesday, July 7, 2021 5:53pm
  • Opinion
Art Chippendale

Art Chippendale

Good Morning Vashon!

Eighteen months ago, we were very much engaged in our personal journeys, building our futures, working at our jobs, and getting the kids to school. We’d never heard of “Zoom.”

Then came COVID-19, a catastrophe that quickly spread around the globe, consuming not only its victims, but our thoughts, our conversations, our jobs, our incomes, our habits, and our social interactions.

Locked down in our homes, bravely venturing out only for the essentials, we began to question what was truly important. Many of us reached the same conclusion: Each Other.

One of our strongest adaptations as humans is our innate drive to come together in times of crisis. Yet the nature of the pandemic turned that upside-down. We would instead be forced to isolate ourselves from each other.

I feel grateful, very grateful to have survived the crisis here, on Vashon, where our community has remained strong. I am grateful to those who provided reliable information, who maintained a sense of normalcy; to the people and organizations who entertained us over the airwaves and the internet. I am grateful to everyone who helped us to get through our days.

I am particularly grateful to Voice of Vashon as well as VashonBePrepared for their regularly updated situation reports from the Vashon Emergency Operations Center. Reliable, information about the status of the pandemic on Vashon-Maury Island played an important role in raising awareness of Covid-19, of the precautions necessary to protect ourselves and others, as well as of local case counts, vaccine availability, and other pandemic related developments on Vashon. Those reports helped enormously to maintain our safety and our calm in the face of uncertainty.

Vashon wasn’t always so blessed. Just one generation ago we had neither community radio nor an emergency alert service.

Every great idea starts with someone, and in 1999 those someones were several: Steve Allen, who understood the technology required; a brilliant, retired radio guy, Bill Morosoff; and Lori Gustafson who was excited and determined to establish community radio on Vashon. Others soon caught the fever and created what would become Voice of Vashon. They included Bill Wood, Jeanne Dougherty, Jeff Hoyt, Steven Holland Chang, Susan Gleason, Bob Moses, Susan McCabe, Hawk Jones, Michael Golen-Johnson, and others.

It was a long-row-to-hoe in making the dream come true. The FCC rejected VoV’s first license proposal in 2002. Undaunted, other islanders discovered even more possibilities. Community activists Mark Peas and Dan Schueler pressured Comcast to establish a Public Access Cable Channel; making Channel 21 a connection between island residents and Voice of Vashon in 2004.

Then, in the winter of 2006, disaster struck. The event remembered as the Hanukkah Eve Windstorm, brought hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall. On Vashon, regular power was out for several days. Downed trees destroyed homes and jammed roads throughout the island.

When it was over, Rick Wallace, then a leading member of the Vashon Disaster Preparedness Coalition, discovered a special FCC license class for providing Highway Advisories. Rick (currently V.P. of VoV’s Board of Directors) brought the idea to VoV and within a year, VoV’s signature contribution to the island was up and running. Known as the Voice of Vashon 1650 AM Alert Service, a dedicated network of volunteers now provides continuous radio updates on emergencies and service disruptions.

So, it’s no wonder that VoV and VashonBePrepared became Vashon’s go-to source for reliable news and updates during the pandemic. Something we can ALL be grateful for.

That we are now all able to listen to VoV’s music and discussion programs on the radio is due to the persistent efforts of even more participants. In 2013, the FCC announced it was creating a new Low-Power FM (LP-FM) classification. The Board and volunteers at VoV jumped at the opportunity, and KVSH 101.9 LP-FM finally went on the air on October 13, 2014.

It has been a long story, but I wanted to illustrate Voice of Vashon’s long and deep roots within our community. That a small group of dedicated community volunteers could persist over two decades to develop an idea and make it a reality is a testimony, not only to their leadership and devotion to public service, it is also a demonstration of the enduring support from the Vashon community. VoV is community radio, supporting other organizations across the island with Public Service Announcements about their events as well as interviewing their leaders regarding their own group’s mission and activities.

So, as you go out and about the island this summer, you can feel grateful to be alive today on Vashon-Maury Island, where, with your support, Voice of Vashon keeps us all connected to each other.

Voice of Vashon’s annual Summer fundraiser is underway. For the third year running, VoV will be selling raffle tickets for a chance to win a shopping spree at Thriftway worth up to $2,000. You can find volunteers in front of Thriftway throughout July and during the live Saturday broadcast at the Strawberry Festival IGA main stage. Stop by and say hi and find out how you can connect with VoV.

Art Chippendale has lived on Vashon for 24 years with his wife, Tania Kinnear. He is active in community organizations.


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