Four startups – including our very own SoKing Internet Radio – have been awarded $12,000 each in national Encore Media Entrepreneurs funding, J-Lab announced on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2.

SoKing Internet Radio will use the grant money to create daily Newcasts that feature “hyperlocal” news, curated from South King Media‘s six community blogs covering South King County.

The four initiatives were among 82 applications received in J-Lab’s Masters Mediapreneurs initiative to help seed media startups launched by Baby Boomers, aged 50-plus.

Scott Schaefer, founder of The B-Town Blog and of South King Media, will lead SKiR’s new project.

“This will allow us to start up a truly innovative new program – daily hyperlocal newscasts that will live not only on our 24/7 streaming radio station, but also as podcasts posted to South King Media’s six local blogs and Facebook pages,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer plans on starting the newscasts soon, and will be auditioning for announcers within a month.

“Far as I know, we may be the first network of local blogs in the country that will be producing original audio Newscasts,” Schaefer added. “That’s pretty exciting.”

Media Consultant and Author Blake Messer will be serving on the SoKing Podcast advisory board.

“The Blogs operated by South King Media were and remain on the vanguard of providing hyper-local news online at a time when consumers have transitioned away from picking up traditional newspapers and began searching for germane content on the web,” Messer said. “The blogs are well done, highly visited and proven. I believe these news/podcasts will be equally relevant as transitioning listeners look for new, local on-demand information via their mobile devices, in the dash of their cars and onli
Messer operates Newfangled Commerce, a digital media agency that works with established and up and coming brands across the country.

The Masters Mediapreneurs progam to seed media startups launched by encore entrepreneurs is funded with grants from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism and the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundations.

“We could easily have funded several more worthy projects,” said J-Lab director Jan Schaffer. “The ideas were creative, the energy striking, and the applicants’ eagerness was quite pronounced.”

“Plus, many who applied tipped their hats to this opportunity to validate their ideas and help them make them happen.”

In addition to SoKing Internet Radio, the winners are:

  • Midcentury/Modern, an online magazine “following Boomers into their Third Act, launched in late December by hyperlocal news entrepreneur Debra Galant, the founder of Baristanet and now director of the NJ News Commons. Instead of creating a stand-alone website, the magazine is publishing on Medium, a social journalism blogging platform that allows people to recommend and share posts Twitter-like. It is one of the first publications receiving independent funding to launch on Medium, which is also offering technical and revenue support. “This online magazine explores how the definition of aging shifts when it happens to the cohort that defined itself by its youthfulness,” Galant said.
  • The LP-FM New-Media Newsroom, a new FM/web-streamed radio station for New Haven, CT, shepherded by New Haven Independent founder Paul Bass in partnership with La Voz Hispana, the local Spanish-language weekly. Daily four-hour news programs, to start, will be in English and Spanish and feature local African-American hosts. “We’re excited about launching an FM/web-streamed community radio station in the fall,” Bass said. “We envision this as one model for not-for-profit, public-interest local news sites like ours to expand on the journalism we do and broaden our racial and ethnic makeup and outreach./li>
  •, a Spanish-language website and database to collect public records and media reports of undocumented people killed during interactions with law enforcement officers along the southern border of the U.S. It is a project of D. Brian Burghart, who created an English version,, and is editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review. “I’m very excited to be able to move forward with  Law-enforcement-involved homicides along the U.S. border is an important and underreported issue, and I hope we can bring together technology, languages and volunteers to get a much better idea of our government’s activities,” he said.

The Masters Mediapreneurs progam is funded with grants from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism and the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundations.

Participating in the judging the applications were Ju-Don Roberts, Director of the Center for Cooperative Media, Montclair State University; Tiffany Shackelford, Executive Director, Association for Alternative News Weeklies; Jody Brannon, Digital Media Strategist and former National Director News 21, and Jan Schaffer, Executive Director, J-Lab.

J-Lab, founded in 2002, is a journalism catalyst. It funds new approaches to news and information, researches what works and shares practical insights with traditional and entrepreneurial news organizations. Jan Schaffer is also Entrepreneur in Residence at American University.

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.