The Highline Heritage Museum has preserved the history of the region since it was a small historical society founded in 1994. Since opening its doors in 2019 and surviving the pandemic, the museum has continued to thrive in its mission to collect and preserve the stories of the Highline area.

In service to that mission, the museum has embarked on a new endeavor – its very own radio station.

“I have been in the museum field for more than 20 years and it is not common practice to connect museums and radio,” says Museum Director Nancy Salguero-McKay.

So how did such an unlikely pairing come about?

“A few months ago I was in an interview for a radio station in Tacoma and they didn’t know anything about us, what we do or what we have,” Executive Direct Nancy Salguero-MaKay told us. “Because of this radio station, OneAmerica, they were interested in learning more about what we do, so they came here to several events and saw the space. And then they gave us a proposal, ‘would you like to have a radio station here?’ So it was not us searching, it was an invitation to us.”

At first Salguero-McKay was hesitant to agree to the offer.

“At first it was a ‘no’ because we worried we did not have the capacity. I am still the only fulltime staff person at the museum and it’s tricky to sustain ourselves in a way that is healthy, in a way that is really sustainable,” Salguero-McKay said. “That was the first concern from the Board as well, ‘do you have the capacity? Do you want to bring another element to [the Museum]?.”

Despite the concerns, Salguero-McKay and the Board decided to go forward with the new project on a 6-month trial basis. “So far things are going great,” says Salguero-McKay. “We are not live yet in terms of interview content, but we have a nice collection of interviews already.”

Salguero-McKay’s primary goal for the radio station is the same she has for the museum – connection.

“The mission of the museum is to tell everyone’s stories. I realized with radio we will be able to reach different demographics that we wouldn’t be able to get to in the museum, for example low income families working two, three jobs or [who have] transportation issues, or people with disabilities, people who have struggles with going out. Now heading into wintertime, there’s also the older generation, that they don’t like to go out in the dark and if it gets dark around 4:30pm, what do you do? Museum events at 6, 7pm is still really late for them. We understood that [radio] is another channel, another way to extend our mission, another way to do the work that we do.”

‘For the Community to the Community’

Salguero-McKay hopes that the community will not only find connection through the radio station but will want to become active voices and embrace the station for themselves.

“This station is for the community to the community, it isn’t just the museum taking control over every single thing. I think [of it as] giving, in a humble way, the opportunity for everyone to utilize the space and express themselves and tell their stories. I don’t believe I should be the only one doing interviews, I would like to extend it to the community to actually be able to think of themselves as radio producers.”

In addition to compiling her own interviews for the station, Salguero-McKay is actively seeking community members who would like to contribute. “If anyone is interested in recording an interview and using the station to develop programs, they are absolutely welcome.”

How to Get On the Air

If you would like to share your story or develop your own program, make your pitch directly to Nancy Salguero-McKay at [email protected].

The goal is to have the station launched by November and have a show every weekday, each day focused on a different topic.

You will soon be able to tune in live at 106.5 KQWZ LP-FM or on the museum’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

More info on the Highline Heritage Museum is here: https://highlinemuseum.org

Alia Sinclair is a writer residing in SeaTac. She is passionate about the arts and connecting people through the written word, and is the founder and editor-in-chief of Patchwork Mosaic magazine for creatives.