With great assets come great responsibilities. In KFFR, the Fraser Valley has a rare and valuable community asset with the potential to lift our quality of life and bring us all together. I am talking about KFFR, of course. This spanking new community radio station is just sprouting up.
Depending on what we do with it, KFFR could become a source of joy, inspiration, entertainment, empowerment and information for all of us.
This local, non-profit public radio station was fostered by longtime part-time resident, Denis Moynihan. KFFR is Moynihan’s gift to the community that will keep on giving.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s there was a public radio boom in Colorado. A lot of stations were springing up. Now you can motor into a town like Durango, Telluride, Crested Butte, Aspen or Paonia and tune in a local radio station and hear local announcers giving out local inside information and playing local music. Some of those stations are still nimble and fun and great to listen to.
That’s the potential we have now at KFFR, 88.3 FM.
It won’t be easy. Some say radio is dead, long buried under all those smart, smart phones and the Internet full of music services. They say that our shrinking attention spans are occupied with Facebook, Game of Thrones trailers and videos of cats on YouTube.
Just after the public radio bloom of the early 1980s, commercial radio stations pursued a path of self-destruction. Commercial radio nearly spoiled everything for everyone because of greed and automation. They focused on sales over content, short term profits over community service. Commercial radio sickened listeners with an endless barrage of inane advertisements and music selections, repeating incessantly. No wonder we all ran for the exits.
Happily, the rumors of radio’s demise are greatly exaggerated. The audience is scattered but people still turn to the dial for news, talk, religion and occasionally, music. Some people still have radios in their homes and many have radio receivers in their cars.
Here in the valley the radio dial is pretty bleak until you get to the far left side of the dial. What you find is mostly soulless automated commercial radio and distant public radio monopolies reaching greedy tentacles into the valley. They are not serving us in a meaningful way. I want to hear local voices, not automated blow-hards from Los Angeles!
We can entertain ourselves. There is room under the monstrous umbrella of corporate media, music streaming services and talking heads for little mom and pop shops like KFFR. Where else are we going to hear a local nine-year-old talk about the school lunch program?
A place like KFFR can serve the community with local music, live music, breaking news, public affairs, youth radio, ski and river conditions, public service announcements and spontaneous local talent behind the microphones.
You do not get any local programs from Spotify or Apple Music or whatever the devices are delivering these days. These music services have their place but they can also enclose us in a tight little self-righteous musical bubble. When a computer algorithm guides your taste you become part of the matrix.
KFFR is in its infancy. It is a lab where locals get to paint on the same audio canvas as every other radio station. I am excited about the potential. The community will eventually decide what level of service it wants and can afford. Do we want local news? Events? Music staff? Youth radio? I think we do, eventually.
The station will need the community to guide its destiny and volunteers to DJ, fund-raise, help at the office and market the station. To be great it will require ongoing, meaningful donations and funding from the local community. The most important attribute of good community radio is the people on the air breathing life and music into the airwaves of Grand County. KFFR will need an active, supportive, open-minded audience. The potential is near limitless.
Steve Skinner wants to hear you on the radio. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.