Guest Commentary, by Pete Simon
KAFM Gains CPB Qualification
For some of you reading this it may not sound like a big deal, until you delve into the history of grass roots, non-commercial radio in Grand Junction. The story of KAFM is one of battles lost and won through heightened expectations, lean times, perseverance, and amazing technical prowess.
KAFM, 88.1 FM, all 16 watts of it (the 88.1 signal blankets the Grand Valley), has just reached another milestone. It becomes the 16th (lucky number) non-commercial radio station in Colorado to gain certification from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). This enables the station to receive annual grant monies from CPB for Programming and Operations.
For nearly a decade, community volunteers worked to make KAFM a reality. It rose from the ashes of an orchestrated take over (and the firing of several dozen volunteers) of KPRN by the management of KCFR, Denver when it took over KPRN in 1991 to mark the beginnings of the KCFR/Colorado Public Radio empire.
Left in the dust were people who listened and participated in KPRN--a station started in the mid 1980s--which they assumed was a solid community asset. The original KPRN blended local voices, news, and events with NPR news and musical variety not available anywhere else on the Grand Junction radio dial. KPRN connected people down the street with those around the world; and in an instant it was gone, replaced by nothing but classical music and NPR news shows without the localism. The only news material to emerge from the new KPRN was produced for a so called state-wide audience; local flavor and soul was gutted. Fortunately, the community volunteer spirit at the old KPRN was able to rekindle at KAFM, and its founders deserve some kind of award.
Since KAFM signed on several years ago, someone was kind (and dedicated) enough to locate and provide an entire house for the people-powered station (that's how much the people in town love their local access radio). The ground floor of the building includes a 75-seat performance theatre, enabling KAFM to broadcast live music.
The CPB certification brings expanding possibilities for an entire community once given up for the whims of larger market radio expectations, often convoluted research, and extreme insensitivity.
It's time to celebrate.
Visit the KAFM radio website by clicking here.