KKFI Grants That Helped

It was hopeless. The number of people involved with the original Mid-Coast Radio class, “Radio Free Kansas City” had dwindled from around 30 to about 3 people when hope showed itself on the horizon.

Without several important grants, KKFI would not have been able to get on the air. The United States Department of Commerce under one of its branches the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) offered funding that has helped public broadcasting stations and other organizations construct facilities to bring educational and cultural programs to the American public. Today, grants are awarded for Internet and broadband issues.

First, the FCC changed its rules to encourage stations on the public end of the band to go up in power to serve more people (Kansas City had 2 10-watt stations). These small stations either had to go up in power, move the commercial end of the band, or go dark.

Then it was discovered that the Department of Commerce (DOC) under its National Telecommunications Information Program was offering grants to encourage more community participation in broadcasting.

These were grants under the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) a now-terminated program. A “development grant” could provide money for development. The grant would allow for the hiring of a “project coordinator” who would prepare an FCC application for a broadcast license and a follow-up PTFP equipment grant.

Ultimately, Barbara Blake was hired to be the project coordinator who would shepherd the equipment grant and the FCC license preparation. Mid-Coast was lucky that she could devote full-time to development at a minimum salary.

Barbara Blake

Found under a pile of rubble moldering away in a basement, is a copy of the first attempt to write a development grant to fund a “project coordinator” to prepare materials to start a radio station. This was applied for under the Department of Commerce’s PTFP program.

The first effort to write the grant, put together by Gil Werner and Tom Crane at the last minute and barely making the deadline, was turned down. But it left the door open to apply again. Barbara Blake fine-tuned the original grant application and submitted it, and Mid-Coast was subsequently awarded the planning grant in 1980.

1980 Planning Grant Announcement

During 1981, Barbara Blake prepared the necessary documents for another grant from the DOC – this time, for equipment.