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Voice of Vashon Prepares Vashon Town Studio

Voice of Vashon will open a new satellite broadcast studio right in the heart of downtown Vashon in early 2016. Construction has already started and beginning today (Wednesday, October 28th), Islanders will be able to watch the progress through giant windows fronting on Vashon Highway at the former Robinson Furniture building. Within a few months, construction will be replaced by live disc jockeys plus radio and TV show production.

The big reveal followed a week-long secret countdown in the windows that began on the 21st, generating lots of Island speculation and rumor on what will go in the front space of the exercise studio being built by Kelly Macomber Straight and Zabette Macomber.

“This is an opportunity for VoV to fulfill its mission of connecting to the community in the most profound way possible,” said Storefront Studio Project Manager Rick Wallace. “We love our current studio perched out of sight up at the back of the Sunrise Ridge property. But this new additional space puts us right in the heart of Vashon town, where we will be more accessible and more visibly fulfilling our mission to be a virtual town square for the Island.”
The station plans to broadcast its popular weekday KVSH Morning Scramble show from the new studio, which will be large enough to accommodate live performing artists, entire bands, roundtable discussions, or even a small television shoot. Live Open House broadcasts during First Friday Gallery Cruise and Strawberry Festival will add to the sense of community engagement. The space will also serve as the anchor point for getting out critical information during an island emergency.

“We’ll recruit and train volunteer DJs and producers so we can add more live shows at other hours across the day,” said KVSH FM Program Director Jeff Hoyt. “Folks walking and driving by will be able to see the DJs at work through the windows on the sidewalk. We expect the studio to help bring in new volunteers and the heightened visibility should make it easier for us to keep adding memberships to help sustain our many services to the community.”
The building’s new owners approached Voice of Vashon about the space because they liked the idea of a community-centric organization occupying the front of their building.

“We’re happy to be able to help VoV have more of a presence on the island and we know that they will be a fun and unique addition to downtown,” said co-owner Kelly Macomber Straight. “And we loved Northern Exposure so it was a win-win.”

Realizing that they were being offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that would not likely come around again, VoV board members quietly began to reach out and float the idea to its major donors.

“We didn’t want word getting out until we were certain we could secure minimum funding to start construction,” said VoV Board President Jean Bosch. “The initial response was terrific and we reached our minimum funding goal rather quickly. A town location has long been on our wish list, so when this opportunity arose, we had to go for it.”
Building a radio studio with a 28-foot wall of windows fronting the main artery through the island is no small challenge. Voice of Vashon hired a Seattle acoustic engineer to design a plan that would not only isolate the studio from the sound of the exercise classes happening on the other side of the studio’s back wall, but shut out the most of the noise from Vashon Highway as well.

“A tiny bit of noise bleeding through from the street could add a fun layer of ‘local’ to our broadcasts,” said Hoyt, “but we want the studio to sound as tight and professional as possible because we believe that we’re creating some high quality programming right now that provides an attractive alternative to much of what passes for radio these days.”
Construction is going on now along Vashon Highway in the space that sits between Zombiez and the new ice cream shop. Acoustic materials and radio equipment will be installed once refurbishment of the space is completed later this fall.

Jeff Hoyt is a writer and home studio-based voice artist on the island and has been volunteering with Voice of Vashon since shortly after its inception. He’s currently the volunteer Program Director for KVSH-FM.