Free Speech Radio

The communities of Sebastopol, Santa Rosa and surrounding areas need community radio. Community radio means a wide range of creative shows, produced by local volunteers, in the areas of music, art, spoken word and open-minded discussions of aging, healing, gardening, astrology, fitness, feminism, LGBT concerns—all commercial-free.

KOWS radio has been providing this for nine years. Its doors are always open for people to drop in and air their views, or for musicians to play on-air. Stay awhile and produce your own show. You will be trained. It doesn’t take long. KOWS is free-speech radio, and other than FCC limitations on foul language, there’s no censorship.

The problem for these nine years is that few people can hear KOWS on the radio (107.3-FM). The antenna is in a tree in the Occidental hills, with many geographical impediments to transmission. KOWS streams from its website (, where anyone can tune in, or view the station’s schedule and see what opportunities it offers. You can sign up as a volunteer there. But streaming has limitations, due to slow or no connectivity. Many can’t afford it.

Currently, KOWS is seeking approval from the Sebastopol City Council for a new antenna on a hill above Sebastopol. It is small and not comparable to a cell phone tower. Emitted radiation, in the area, is about 1/2500th of FCC limitations, significantly less than the smartphone many people carry in their pockets. The antenna will be partially visible from fewer than 20 adjacent homes.

KOWS has won approval from the city planning commission for a use permit to build an antenna support structure at a utility facility owned by the city, but this decision has been appealed, and won’t be finalized until a May 31 city council meeting at 6pm at the Sebastopol Community Center. Public support is invaluable. Please attend and express your interest in radio that will belong to you. Alternatively, you can send a message to [email protected]. Please stand up for the greater good, and the cultural needs of the community.

Robert Feuer is a KOWS volunteer broadcaster and a music writer.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the ‘Bohemian.’ We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write [email protected].