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Our Story

​​Fairbanks Open Radio presents KWRK-LP 101.7 FM in Fairbanks, Alaska.
We are the only 100% listener-supported radio station in the Great Land with the bold broadcast to prove it.

No commercials. No underwriting. No fascist creep.

Read our mission statement here.

By 2005, a growing number of Fairbanksans recognized a deepening want of community responsiveness in our local NPR affiliate station that escalated when an ornery bureaucrat unceremoniously canceled several beloved local and syndicated programs from the broadcast. Thus was born the "KUAC Listeners' Alliance", which launched a counter pledge drive to resist the abrupt, rightward turn of our public radio station. The funds collected became seed money for an independent, listener-sponsored radio station. Organizers began meeting under the banner of "Fairbanks Open Radio".

Over the next decade, we deployed a diversity of tactics to propagate independent media. We had a web site that published local news and perspectives on affairs here and abroad. In 2012, we obtained an FCC permit to build a high-power FM station at KRFF 89.1 MHz, "Radio Free Fairbanks". In recognition of the amount of money we would need to raise from private interests to finance such an endeavor and the degree to which that would compromise our aspirations for independence, we transferred the high-power FM license to the Athabascan Fiddlers Association, which had an established revenue stream and today proudly broadcasts The Voice of Denali Radio on KRFF 89.1 FM as part of a network of FM stations serving communities across Interior Alaska. Our volunteers have produced radio broadcasts for both KRFF and KWRK-LP.

Inspired by the LPFM (aka “pirate radio”) movement for community-responsive broadcast media, organizers at Fairbanks Open Radio ultimately decided upon the LPFM model for its universal accessibility - both to us as broadcasters and to our listeners – through inexpensive, readily available equipment. We are eternally grateful to the Prometheus Radio Project and to Lewis Leonard of Glacier City Radio at KEUL 88.9 FM in Girdwood, who helped us to navigate both the bureaucracy to acquire and maintain the broadcast permit and the technical aspects of setting up and running our station.

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In 2014, the Alaska Peace Center and Fairbanks Open Radio acquired a Low Power FM Broadcast Station Construction Permit from the FCC. Over the previous decade, Prometheus and other principled media activists, some of whom had their “pirate radio” equipment summarily pirated by the feds, had persistently besought the FCC to allow community access to the increasingly commercial, increasingly consolidated airwaves, which culminated in a one-time application period for LPFM permits. Our intrepid volunteers recognized and exploited the historic opportunity, and we obtained one of ~1,000 LPFM construction permits issued nationwide. The FCC has since opened the LPFM application window once - the first 8 days in November 2023 - but otherwise offered no indication that it will ever again do so, at least not voluntarily.

Fairbanks Open Radio supports the movement to democratize the airwaves by normalizing independent LPFM broadcasts to protect them from state confiscation of equipment and other legal jeopardy and by improving existing public radio infrastructure and funding it sufficiently to be responsive to the needs of diverse, local communities. At a bare minimum, the FCC should reopen the LPFM application window at regular intervals.


In 2015, we organized the volunteer labor and raised the funds necessary to buy, assemble, and install radio broadcast equipment at our lo-fi studio. We affiliated with the Pacifica Network, Radio4All.net, and the Channel Zero Network and identified a solid array of syndicated radio productions to rebroadcast locally.

One casual observer noted that "80% of what we do is pipe Berkley into Fairbanks".

In early February 2016, we began testing our 100-watt LPFM transmission as KWRK-LP 90.9 FM just a few blocks outside of Fairbanks city limits. We launched our regular broadcast on February 13 by airing the Fairbanks Winter Folk Fest live from Alaskaland, and we've been on the air ever since. The FCC granted our LPFM Station License on March 2, and by break-up we were broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Two years later, in February 2018, we began an Internet live stream of KWRK-LP.

Following the arrival of yet another 10kW noise machine on a frequency next door, we sought refuge on short notice as FCC-designated "second class" stations must do. On May 26, 2024 - 8 years, 3 months, and 13 days after we began broadcasting KWRK-LP, we found a new home at 101.7 FM, where we persist and thrive.

The workers behind Fairbanks Open Radio and KWRK-LP 101.7 FM fancy an open forum for insightful discussion of subjects relevant to the pursuit of justice in our communities - a source that introduces new ideas, inspires deliberation and reconsideration of old ideas, and stimulates us to act. We are working class folks who accomplish collectively what we cannot individually - nothing less than maintaining the flailing fourth estate with our own educational news media outlet.

We proudly carry that torch with a versatile, no-frills, low-stress, LPFM / pirate radio approach.

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