By Caitlin Switzer
GRAND JUNCTION—(December 17, 2013) In the beginning, it was about finding room for alternative music and local voices amidst the crowded world of commercial radio.
A group of locals who shared an idea and a dream banded together to start a locally-programmed, locally-owned and operated community radio station in the Grand Valley in 1992. After years of hard work and hope on the part of this small group of volunteers, the 16-watt station first took to the airwaves on March 5, 1999. In their own words, the idea was to provide “a place where local folks can program alternative music genres ignored by the commercial stations, a place that is accessible by all people and organizations with something to contribute to their community, a place where all viewpoints are welcome, and treated with respect.”
Today, it’s also a great place to take in a show. Home of the “Radio Room” concert venue, KAFM is stronger than ever—and expanding its presence outside the traditional studio.
“The FM dial is full in Grand Junction in a way that makes it highly unlikely that our signal at 88.1 can ever increase to anything more than our current 16 watts,” notes the station’s web site. “…When we moved into our present location at 1310 Ute Avenue and saw the potential of that big old ugly building, we realized we could be more than just a radio station. What has evolved over time is the idea that while radio is the source of our core mission, we can be much more.”
That “much more” includes the Radio Room venue, which remains one of the region’s best-kept secrets—but if KAFM Events and Outreach Coordinator Cash Kiser has anything to do with it, that is about to change.
“This year marks the 15th year for Grand Valley Community Radio, and we are stepping up the action,” Kiser said. “We will be doing more shows, featuring local, statewide and national touring bands.”
The Radio Room has a capacity of 75, Kiser said.
“Grand Junction has an outstanding music scene, but it’s mostly bars and restaurants and the Mesa Theater & Club,” he said. “We are seeking to capitalize on the fact that we have this great little venue, and such wonderful acoustics.”
There will be four shows in January and three in February as the station seeks to expand beyond its traditional listening audience to entice a younger demographic and raise funds to continue its mission. On Jan. 10, the Radio Room welcomes national act Peanut Butter Lovesicle—featured at the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival–with Bronco Country and Wave Baby as openers. On Jan. 18, the Liddells will perform with Steve Kilcrease. On Jan. 21, traditional favorite Tony Furtado will play, and on Jan. 25 Photo Atlas and a special guest will appear.
Expect a packed schedule in February as well, Kiser said, and added that the station’s 15-year anniversary show on March 26 will feature a Western Slope favorite, Boston-based songwriter Eilen Jewell.
“We have a lot going on,” Kiser acknowledged. “We are really excited about seeking to better represent our community. We are open to bringing in younger shows, and fresh energy to the valley.”
Concerts are digitally recorded and broadcast live either whole or in part. Each year, KAFM produces a compilation CD entitled, “Live at the Radio Room.”
KAFM’s efforts to reach “beyond radio” also include a Lifelong Learning Series and The Gallery at the Radio Room, which features exhibitions throughout the year and highlights some of the area’s finest visual artists. The Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., during Radio Room events, and by appointment.
To keep up with KAFM and 2014 Radio Room shows, visit the web site at www.kafmradio.org or call 970-241-8801.