In 1922, Thomas Edison said the radio craze would not last. Edison generally was ahead of his time on most things, but I think he got it wrong on radio.
And Spencer Abersold, the manager of Gig Harbor’s community radio station, KGHP, agrees.
KGHP is a hidden gem in our community, one that is going strong today thanks to a major remodel and equipment upgrade during the past few months.
What’s that, you say? You didn’t know we had a local radio station?
Well, KGHP has been broadcasting to our community and surrounding region for more than 25 years. If you live in Gig Harbor, you can find it at 93.7 FM, and if you are on the Key Peninsula, you can check it out at 89.9 FM.
You will be surprised at what you find: the content is unique and diverse and often breaks the rules, just like the community it represents.
“You can taste and smell and feel the community over our airwaves,” Abersold said. “It’s like a very good friend, someone you trust and can sit back with and allow yourself to be exposed to something special.”
Four Gig Harbor men who understood the value of community communication started the station long before the Internet or social media. Max Bryce, Don Hoffman, Keith Stiles and Milt Boyd thought a radio station was needed for emergency and disaster communication as well as an education and entertainment tool.
In the past quarter-century, KGHP has filled that role on the peninsula. And since that time, the station’s physical location and technical equipment had become very outdated and worn.
The Peninsula School District, which owns KGHP, knew it needed the community to step up in order to keep the station on the air.
“We were literally on the brink of shutting down,” Abersold said. “But I believed the community would step up.”
And, of course, it did.
Thanks to a partnership of local government agencies, community organizations, corporate supporters and individual underwriters, KGHP now is fresh from floor to ceiling with all-new, state-of-the-art equipment, ready to broadcast.
“The equipment provides better clarity and sound to the peninsula,” Abersold said. “It’s ready for another 25 years and 10 more generations of Peninsula School District students.”
There are many community radio stations that have become a lifeline during major disasters, including in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, in Jonestown, Pa., during the tornado, and in Haiti during the earthquake. KGHP is poised to provide that invaluable service to our community and surrounding area when, not if, our community finds itself in a similar situation.
In addition, the station has provided hundreds of Gig Harbor and Peninsula high school kids the opportunity to gain confidence and be creative.
“We turn introverts into extraverts every day,” Abersold said, adding that he has many former students who send notes of thanks for the time they spent at KGHP and the role the station has played in their lives. “We call it the ‘Cave of Fun.’ ”
The station will need community support to continue, and to keep the program going.
“We will need about $75,000 a year for maintenance and upgrades,” Abersold said.
Abersold, a 1992 Peninsula High School graduate, is well-known in the community for his fun fundraising antics, and he has a few new ideas for the future. But what he really hopes for is more community underwriting.
And what a deal: Businesses that underwrite the station for $400 a year get as many as 1,200 ads on the air — two or three per day.
“The citizens of Gig Harbor have a coolness and greatness,” Abersold said. “I want the station to be a reflection of that. It’s our way of saying thanks to this great community and their support.”
Tune in and see what’s new at KGHP. Check out kghp.org, and donate to support this local gem.
It’s so worth it.Gig Harbor Guide columnist Laureen Lund is the marketing director for the City of Gig Harbor. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.