KCMJ now covering local issues
By James Schneiter
Community radio can make an area vibrant and energetic; it can allow charismatic leaders to emerge; it can create excitement about local events and issues. Community radio is now a reality for the Colorado Springs area.
Simply put, community radio is a low-budget radio service, run almost exclusively by volunteers, which broadcasts for a local audience and runs stories that are often overlooked by large commercial broadcasters.
In 2011, community leader and former Colorado state Rep. Dennis Apuan and others founded Colorado Media Justice Foundation (CMJF) in the hope of bringing community radio to Colorado Springs.
After a lengthy application process, the Federal Communications Commission granted the CMJF a construction permit. A license to broadcast on radio will be granted once KCMJ has purchased, installed and tested a transmitter and antenna.
The station will need to have operating funds and a solid volunteer base when actual radio broadcasting begins.
In January, under the continued leadership of Apuan, KCMJ began broadcasting online from the Tim Gill Center in downtown Colorado Springs, and it is off to a good start. It now has regular programming.
Though not yet available on FM radio 93.9 – it does not expect to have a transmitter until July 1 – it is streaming on line at KCMJ.org and several programs can be accessed on demand globally from the KCMJ.org website.
Our own PPJPC has two weekly programs streaming on line and on demand. On Tuesdays from 12 – 1 p.m., PPJPC executive director Scott Olson hosts the “Justice and Peace Hour.” And on Fridays from 12–12:30 p.m., PPJPC associate director Steve Saint hosts “Adventures in Permaculture.” If you missed any of these informative programs, they can all be accessed at KCMJ.org/ondemand. (See insert for a list of PPJPC program dates and topics.)
One of the primary driving forces of KCMJ is Dave Gardner, a local activist who has had a 35-year career in filmmaking and extensive radio experience going all the way back to when he worked for Colorado Springs radio station KVOR during his high school years.
Gardner has two official titles: KCMJ Board Vice Chair and Public Affairs Program Director. But he has stepped into many other roles too. He has assisted with the design and some of the technical aspects of the studio at the Tim Gill Center and he spends much time training volunteers and promoting programs.
He also co-hosts “We Have Issues” with Dick Anson. This prominent program has been broadcasting on Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m. since Jan. 14. Gardner and Anson have been very busy lately interviewing mayoral and city council candidates.
All We Have Issues programs are also available at KCMJ.org/ondemand.
According to Gardner, KCMJ offers people an alternative to the ultraconservative voices presented on the commercial stations. But KCMJ programming is not limited to political content. One notable non-political program available on demand is “Bernie’s Journeys,” which reports on places and events in Colorado Springs and areas nearby.
One recent episode featured the 10th annual Big Horn Sheep Day at Garden of the Gods city park. During this 30-minute presentation, many very entertaining facts were presented about Garden of the Gods and Friends of Garden of the Gods, a group that supports it.
Local musicians and entertainers are also featured on KCMJ. Available on demand is “Front Range Radio,” which airs live on Sunday nights. Host Tim Board routinely invites local musicians into the studio to chat and play.
And there are also some Spanish-language programs. – Línea Abierta (weeknights at 11) and Edición Semanaria (Sundays at 6 p.m.).
“Anyone willing to become a listener/member ($25), volunteer a few hours a month and learn how to run the studio gear can quickly be in the running to host a show,” Gardner explains. “The vast majority of our local programs are on the air because someone came to us with the idea and was willing to create the show.
“There are a surprising number of other ways to participate in the project beyond hosting a show. Citizens interested in getting involved can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to express interest,” he added.
For more information email email@example.com or call the station at (719) 291-9898. Or visit the KCMJ.org website.
James Schneiter is a retired teacher, a member of the PPJPC and author of The Last Quarter: A Middle School Story.