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The organization looking to step in as operator of local radio station KIBH 91.7 FM kicked off its first membership drive over the weekend at the Seward Music and Arts Festival, collecting a stack of membership slips two inches thick, said Kenai Mountains Public Media President Rick Brown.

KMPM expects to receive the Federal Communications Commission broadcasting license from the current operator, Kenai Educational Media, Inc., at the conclusion of a due diligence period set to end in November, Brown said. 

Kenai Educational Media Inc., formed in 2011, had operated the station in recent years, but turnover and waning interest on the board of directors led the organization to conclude that a clean break with a new operator might give the radio station a new lease on life, said KEMI President Cindy Clock.

“Nobody really had time to commit to it because we all had our own thing going on,” Clock said. “And once the new energy came in, it was just decided that a whole new group should be formed.”

The new organization, headed by an eight member board with directors from around the eastern Kenai Peninsula, has an ambitious plan to revitalize the radio station and incorporate additional local programming and material from public radio sources, such as National Public Radio and Alaska Public Media.

KMPM will also form a community advisory board, which will elect a member to the board of directors.

“We think it is a good idea,” Brown said. “We truly want this to be a community radio station, and we really want community buy in. Doing that means the community has a voice in operating the radio station.”