photo (c) Barb Morgen
It was late at night when 15-year-old Sabrina Roach turned the dial on her radio. She wanted to connect with something. Anything. She found that connection with KUOW 94.9 and followed her instincts. 15 years passed and now Sabrina is one of Seattle’s biggest advocates for low-power FM (LPFM) stations.
Q: For starters, what exactly do you do at your job?
A: I’m a Doer at Brown Paper Tickets. This means I work full-time on making an impact on social issues with no metrics for sales. I’m not part of the business side of the business. I’m part of how they give back.
Q: How long have you been in this field?
A: 11 years. I started at KUOW in 2000. In 2005, I became the Community Engagement and Development Director at KBCS Community Radio. During my 6 years there, I became interested in National Media Reform policy work and media justice organizing. Then I was offered the job as a Doer.
Q: You’ve been working at Brown Paper Tickets ever since. Why did you accept the position with them?
A: It made it possible for me to do more work in this area where previously I’d just done advocacy and organizing. It also made me think, what are some things I can do for public media that ultimately help with equitable community development? Continuing to work on LPFMs was something I felt I could make a big difference in.
Q: What are some of the differences you’ve already made?
A: In January 2011, President Obama signed the Local Community Radio Act into law. I wasn’t a key leader but I participated in that movement. I worked with Seattle Globalist to create a youth media network. I also helped in the creation of the Make Radio Challenge.
Q: What exactly did you do with the Make Radio Challenge?
A: Through 2012 and 2013 I worked on getting the word out to non-profits, schools, and tribal nations about creating LPFMs. I knew this would innovate public media — creating new anchor points, developing new voices, and working to create communities. After networking in Seattle, I was able to encourage seven organizations to apply. They’re currently building and will get on the air in 2016-2017.
Q: So you’re pretty much the voice for the little guys. Wouldn’t you say so?
A: I’m a strong advocate for equity. What I know how to do is pitch in on strengthening communication infrastructures. I’m both an advocate for the little guy and want to contribute my skills to the success of public media broadly.
Q: At what moment did you know your work had a lasting impact?
A: I was in a room with a bunch of people when a young woman who I worked with on LPFM gave a thank-you speech. She gave me a lot of credit, (which made me a little uncomfortable) but I was touched. My work and encouragement meant something to her and helped decide what she wanted to do in her life. It was really one of the most powerful moments in my career where I felt like I had done something right.
Q: Last question: how have YOU changed over time?
A: I used to be afraid that what I was working on wasn’t going to be sustainable. And when I was 25, my mom was in the hospital dying. Kind of when my career started, which was hard. But I have a safety net. Either my family is going to help me or I know the resources. I’m not afraid anymore.
To see more about what Sabrina Roach does, take a look at http://community.brownpapertickets.com/Doers/radio.html