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
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
“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
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.
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 -
line;: 259-KZMU (5968)
on the web at www.kzmu.org.