I heard it on the radio
CARBONDALE, Colorado If you love everything you hear on KDNK, then were not doing our job. Brenda Buchanan, former KDNK communications director.Amy Kimberly laughed as she mentioned the quote. Kimberly, 51, who has Buchanans old gig, was actually chuckling a lot from her office. She was talking about the significance of the station, what its meant to her.I love being able to turn on the radio and, man, its a journey, she said.Really, where else can you hear Celtic rock, folk and blues, chased with a little Democracy Now! Its that crazy, jarring mix that has always defined KDNK, Carbondales own homegrown, community radio experiment. Now, after 25 years, the place is set to party.You wouldnt have known it Tuesday afternoon, however. The studio was totally low-key, with several KDNK founders hanging out. Though they seemed excited about the upcoming shindigs, and some had traveled a long way to be there, they werent talking up the upcoming concert, open house or cocktail party. Mostly, they seemed proud, a little wowed by everything that had led up to this. They couldnt say enough about the station.It truly was a labor of love, explained Wick Moses, 61.Now a volunteer, he began as a stations first manager before it ever hit the air waves. He was speaking with his hands, smiling, trying to convey what a different time it was for the valley back in the early 1980s. There were only a handful of radio stations then, just a few television channels. Bluegrass was still fringe. The community needed media, he said, and KDNK was happy to provide with the most local of flavors. Along with a few national and valley news shows, the station was all about music. From the very beginning, it made its mark with a rag tag collection of volunteer disk jockeys, many completely new to the medium.It was great watching people come in and see they could do this, best of all, he explained, grinning.Its always been a community thing, added Leslie Johnson, 48. The 16-year volunteer was also smiling, laughing, sitting in Kimberlys office.I would say (it means) community and independence, she went on. And music. Great, great local music.Just then, Steve Skinner, with his funky glasses and laid-back vibe, appeared in the doorway. At 56, the current general manager has held the position three times since the 1980s.What is it about? he asked himself out loud. Its about community radio. Its about the mission.KDNK provides public access radio that connects community members to one another and the world, he then quoted.Of course he knew it by heart.And Kimberly couldnt agree more. She moved to Carbondale shortly before the terrorist attacks of 2001, she said, and she didnt have television. Listening to KDNK was her way to be filled in on all those devastating events. The next year, during the intense summer fire season, local radio was the only place to hear breaking news on the natural disasters.To see the power and how immediate and how vital it was to people here, I was like wow, this is vitally important, Kimberly said.A little earlier, past general manager Allen Scott, 60, had become impassioned about that importance by phone. Talking from this now-home of Colorado Springs, he called his time at KDNK probably one of the most memorable experiences hell ever have in broadcasting.
For him, he said, the station is a rare place for home town media, into which volunteers put in their heart and soul. They do it for love, he said, and if he hadnt have moved, he never would have left. He misses it all the time.If I had been given a choice, I would have stayed at that station until I had to take a dirt nap, he said, sounding serious.It was after all these words, all these stories, when original KDNK founder Lee Swidler put in his two cents. The 60-year-old, visiting from his new home in Costa Rica, was almost matter-of-fact, and speaking from a couch in the lobby. He was also probably talked out, having spoken with two other reporters that day. This all started, he explained, with an ad he put in the Valley Journal years before the station ever hit the air. It read that he was looking for volunteers to help start a new radio venture. Yeah, he always thought it would succeed. Why wouldnt it, he asked.As he sees it, KDNK was, and continues to be, an eclectic station where anyone in the community could be a disk jockey no strings attached.Its maintained the integrity of our dream, he said.From the looks of it, thats one thing that wont be changing anytime soon. Contact Stina Sieg: firstname.lastname@example.orgGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
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