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Business Happenings - NOVEMBER 2001

KZMU: The Center of Positive Energy and Great Music!
Welcome to the center of positive energy and great music” is how Station Manager Jeff Flanders greets people that come to KZMU. Everyone involved in this unique, energetic little radio station just south of Moab on Rocky Road shares his wonderful outlook on their work. And “everyone” is quite a number of people. KZMU enjoys the talents of 66 DJ’s, 20 substitutes and hundreds of ex-DJ’s. Collectively they have contributed a total of 10,000 volunteer hours each year. Moab’s community radio station is an operation driven on volunteerism and a passion for music.

KZMU is a non-profit, community public radio station. In 1967 Congress created the Corporation of Public Broadcasting. Its primary purpose was to reserve a small amount of radio frequencies for non-profit stations to allow public participation and access to the airwaves in order satisfy First Amendment rights. It was also meant to provide alternative programming to commercial radio’s musical and news programming. Indeed, KZMU operations revolve around the core of free speech and alternative musical and news programs.

In 1990, Moab didn’t have a radio station. A cadre of dedicated people decided to take on the bureaucratic process of obtaining a public radio station license and frequency. Through the efforts of Kyle Bailey, Carl Rappe, Suzanne Mayberry, Bill Benge, Nan Norris and many others, KZMU went on the air in April of 1992. The station’s home was a dilapidated, beat-up trailer on top of Rocky Road. The trailer sat on a piece of land owned by the Loveridge family who generously donated the land to KZMU in 1996.

As in any collective endeavor, KZMU went through the normal growing pains of staff changes, financial stability, DJ turnover and defining itself. There are literally hundreds of people in Moab who have been involved in the station as it evolved through the 1990’s. One of the biggest challenges was building a permanent station. Using seed money from the City of Moab and Robert Fulghum, a cement pad was poured. Seven years later, using the donations from the community and volunteer labor from a construction community, a modest but comfortable permanent station was completed.

With the new facility, KZMU has been able to invite everyone from the community to be on the air primarily through its weekly interview show “This Week in Moab” (Mondays 7-9 am and rebroadcast from 5-7 pm). This free, public air time has been utilized by almost every non-profit organization in town to help promote events and messages they want to get out to the community. “This Week in Moab” has had practically every public service group on the air from the Mayor, to City/County Council members, the Water & Sewer District, Planning and Zoning, the Moab Police and County Sheriff’s offices, Search and Rescue, candidates for public office, and even Governor Leavitt and Senator Orrin Hatch Bon Kelly, who managed KZMU for over 3 years, had the vision to purchase the equipment to broadcast the City and Council meetings live every week. This has been a tremendous public service since the listener gets to hear the discussions and comments live in the comfort of their own homes. Governor Leavitt said he didn’t know of another city in Utah that had their council meetings broadcast live.

The station operates on $75,000 a year. It is common for “NPR” (National Public Radio) format stations like KUER (out of Salt Lake City) to operate on 1.5 million dollars a year. Even KZMU’s “sister” community station in Salt Lake operates on over $600,000 a year. It is a small miracle that KZMU exists at all. You just don’t find very many non-profit community stations in towns the size of Moab. About $25,000 comes from a grant from Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the other $50,000 comes from the extremely generous listeners in Moab and businesses that underwrite KZMU’s programming. Donations are solicited twice a year during KZMU’s spring and fall radiothons. These fundraisers feature 10 days of highly energetic, creative shows that usually have special themes.

A few folks have a misconception about KZMU, namely that it is an "entity" with a political bias. KZMU is an informational outlet for a diverse collection of views not commonly heard. It's mission is served by offering thwe airwaves to those in the community who wish to be heard. The 66 DJ's that volunteer their time get the opportunity to express their views. Their opinions are their opinions - not those of anyone else. KZMU encourages the community to take advantage of free speech radio.

In spite of talk shows and personal opinions, KZMU is 95% music. Contrary to the controlled formats of other radio stations, KZMU has mostly 2-hours shows that feature whatever the host DJ wants to play. This approach allows total creativity and freedom. Each DJ can cultivate their audience without management intervention. Our local programming usually goes from 9am to 11pm. During the other hours, we are fortunate enough to broadcast a feed from KRCL, Salt Lake City’s great community radio station.

Aside from showcasing jazz, blues, folk, bluegrass, country, Americana, Latin American, African, Celtic, reggae, Native American, Broadway musicals, big band, electronic and all kinds of rock ‘n roll, there is “Children’s Shine Time” on Saturday mornings where a parent and child (usually between age 6 – 8) play children’s music. Also broadcast are City and County Council meetings, an all Spanish show for Moab’s Hispanic community, live music and interviews with musicians who are playing in town. The hilarious Trading Post show that is hosted by the thespian/comedic Kiffmeyer brothers who keep the laughs coming for 90 minutes. A program guide can be found in the Moab Happenings. In a world of television, print, and radio media that is overwhelmingly impersonal, over-commercialized, canned, controlled and censored, KZMU is a breath of fresh air. It’s real, involving real people who live right here in Moab who share their favorite music with the community. KZMU radio is about DJ’s giving to the listeners and the listeners giving back in the form of donations twice a year.

Manager Jeff Flanders summed it by saying “KZMU connects the listener to the community in a fun and entertaining way. It’s not particularly polished, we don’t always know what we’re going to do next, but you can be sure that whatever you hear will be spontaneous, fun and full of positive energy. Indeed, our mission statement reads that KZMU’s mission is to inform, educate, engage, entertain and delight’. Like the call letters say, ‘Krank Zee Music Up!’

© 2001 Moab Happenings. All rights reserved. Reproduction of information contained in this site is expressly prohibited.

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