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NON-PROFIT HAPPENINGS - October 2006

KZMU - One of a Kind Radio,
for a One of a Kind Community!

KZMU-DoniWhen pressed to explain what is special about Moab, locals usually pin it on the unique qualities of the community. The feeling of being involved with a community this engaged, this unique, this resourceful and talented is simply one of a kind. Moab’s Community Radio Station, KZMU fm 90.1 and 106.7, is a fitting reflection of the community it serves. Maybe it is a little rough around the edges, and maybe the contrast surprises you. It’s just the way Moab is.

KZMU is a non-profit, community public radio station whose mission it is to inform educate, entertain and delight, revolving around the core idea of freedom of expression with emphasis on alternative forms of music and thought. In 1967, Congress created the Corporation of Public Broadcasting. The primary purpose was to reserve a small amount of radio frequencies for non-profit stations that would allow public participation and access to the airwaves to exercise our First Amendment rights. It was also meant to provide an alternative to the commercial radio landscape. Few could have foreseen the political climate that endangers genuine discourse and alternative voice that was to come just a few decades later. Back then, in Moab, that kind of alternative was just an FM dream embedded in an AM world.

KZMUThere was a time, waaay back in the late eighties, when there was no local radio on the dial at all. As anyone can tell you that lived here then, it was strange, that silence. Then, in the dark void of radio frequency, the dreamseed of non-commercial, varietal, community driven radio germinated. Carl Rappe, Frank Wilson, Bill Benge, Suzanne Mayberry and many other communitarian visionaries gathered forces to tackle the bureaucratic process of obtaining a public radio station license and frequency. It was epic. The first studio was an old trailer that looked as if a cyclone traipsed through the living room. To the founders, It was Perfection! The trailer sat on a piece of land generously donated to the cause by the Loveridge family.

Finally, one sweet day in April of 1992, the big red “ON” button was pushed. In a collaborative effort with sister station KRCL fm, 24 hour broadcast began. It was wild and wonderful to hear the voice of the community develop. As in any collective endeavor, KZMU went through the normal growing pains of staff changes, financial stability, DJ turnover and all the dynamic interactions customary to a newly formed group. (KZMU still grows through dynamic changes. They’re getting good at it). One of the biggest early challenges was building a permanent studio. In 1999, with plenty of community contribution and volunteer labor, a modest but comfortable permanent station was completed. The next hurdle was gigantic and last year, Moab Community Radio crossed it. A long term capital improvement project saw the station through a transmitter upgrade that allows 500 watts of power, broadcast in high definition digital audio, 100% wind powered (another rarity in the broadcast landscape). KZMU streams live 24 hours a day on www.kzmu.org.

Now in its 14th broadcast year, there are 75 DJ’s, 20 substitutes and hundreds of ex-DJ’s in the community that have all played a giant role in serving the needs of the community. Striving to make a difference, KZMU is one of the only stations in the country to broadcast City Council meetings live. KZMU also offers open access interview shows such as This week in Moab (Mondays 5-6pm) and Free Speech Friday (Fridays 5-6pm). The station is also very committed to Moab’s youth in training young broadcasters as a sound partner and a member of the Voices of Youth with Art Coach Bruce Hucko. It has been called AudioDemocracy at a time when American culture experiences erosion of freedoms and constitutional rights of all kinds. This free, public air time is utilized by almost every non-profit organization in town to help promote their events and convey their mission. It is a rare joy and a privilege to access public airtime; volunteers create a musical offering within a supportive managerial atmosphere…. And it happens with a very small operating budget. Contrary to the controlled formats of other radio stations, KZMU has mostly 2-hours shows that rely on the creative talents of its on air volunteers. The quality and variety of programming tends to stun listeners from elsewhere:

“Thanks again for the kind tunes. I live in Pomona, CA and find the radio very less than desirable. Same with where I used to live: Denver. The music and information that KZMU presents on a daily basis helps my overall state of mind and makes living in near LA a better thing.” J . Merritt, SoCal

“I would just like to say how much I enjoyed your station as I visited the mind blowing geological features for my first time. As I was driving towards and through Moab, my right arm grew heavy from the constant search for any music I could listen to for more than 2 minutes. I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear your station last friday. I kept it there all weekend, stunned at the variety. Very refreshing. The bonus is that now I can listen through the web. Take Care.” Keith (Massachusetts)

How does it work? The station operates on an average of about $100,000 a year. It is common for“NPR” format stations like Salt Lakes’ KUER fm to operate on 1.5 million dollars a year. Even sister station KRCL in Salt Lake operates on over $600,000 a year. KZMU gets half it’s funding from a grant from Corporation of Public Broadcasting and the other half from the extremely generous listeners and businesses that underwrite KZMU’s programming. Donations are solicited twice a year during KZMU’s spring and fall radiothons; 9 days of highly energetic, creative shows with special themes. A floating misconception is that KZMU is that it is an entity that espouses a political bias. KZMU is a radio frequency – not a political entity. It’s mission is served by offering the airwaves to those who wish to use it.

KZMU BuildingJust like democracy, it works best with broad participation. Interested? There are open air time slots, openings on the board of trustees, openings on the Community Advisory Board, and a wish list a mile long. (Wouldn’t it be great to hear more local news and public affairs? ) If you want to help in any way, please call Station Manager Jeff Flanders or Program Director Christy Williams at 259-8824 for more information.
 
90.1fm  & 106.7fm  -  
Studio line;: 259-KZMU (5968)  
Office: 259-8824.
We're on the web at www.kzmu.org.

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