Since KZMU lost funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 2015, it has been forced to raise $90,000 each year to make up the difference. Last week’s annual radiothon set out to raise $35,000 of that goal, but fell $10,000 short.
The local radio station is run on a yearly budget of $150,000 and is dependent on community support in order to thrive. Reflecting on this month’s radiothon, KZMU manager Marty Durlin said, “In a lot of ways it was a lovely, well run, happy radiothon. The people who stepped forward have been really generous and complimentary.”
“Up to now it’s worked, and I believe it will work again,” Durlin added, “but it’s a challenging thing for the station to make up that kind of money.”
Since the station previously relied on federal funds, it was a large and unexpected shift when responsibility was placed in the hands of the listeners, Durlin said.
In addition to newfound financial competition with other local nonprofits, KZMU saw a number of other barriers to the success of the fundraiser. Due to the scheduled Rocky Mountain Power outage, the station was off the air for two days during the radiothon.
Dedicated to their cause
“The station has deep roots in the community,” Durlin said, “It really is an important resource for the good of the town and our communication. Otherwise you’re really dependent on non-local, corporate sources of news, and it’s great to have your neighbors and friends talking about the issues that are really of your concern here.”
One of the most successful shows during the radiothon was “Rocketship Radio/Take It or Leave It” by Serah Mead. The weekly show airs on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon. The first half focuses on new music, and in the second half, Mead’s persona transitions from DJ Honeywine to Beaver, and she is joined by her co-host Cleaver for an advice portion of the show.
During the radiothon, Mead’s show raised about $1,000, and as part of a pledge, her co-host gave a “stick and poke” tattoo to a listener live on air.
“There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm going on,” Mead said. “That’s what I like about radiothons.”
The show also raised enough for Mead to get a tattoo of her own live on air, and she said the tattoo session is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 16 during her morning show.
Other notable shows were DJ Ozone’s “Bait and Switch” during which he performed an original freestyle rap; “Hot Tub Time Machine” hosted by Howard Trenholme, celebrating the 25 years the station has been in business; The “Professor Purple” show, and a show put on entirely by DJs Elliot and Ethan, who are 11 and 12 years old, respectively.
It’s not over ‘til it’s over
In the face of their $10,000 shortfall, the team is far from discouraged.
“For me, the radiothon isn’t over,” said program director Christy Williams. “Do you have 25 bucks?” she added, laughing.
Williams has been with KZMU since its genesis. Between queuing up songs for a radio show and taking calls from donors, she weaved the tale of how the station came to be.
She spoke of the dilapidated park service trailer with a sagging roof that became their first studio, the $5,000 dollars they struggled to raise, and how exciting it was when they managed to pull it off.
“You can do anything you want in Moab,” Williams said. “You’ve just got to start it from scratch.”
And that’s the feeling she said she hopes to preserve in Moab, with radio as its medium. Williams expressed her desire to get more people involved at KZMU and give everyone an opportunity to have a voice.
Durlin echoed this sentiment, saying, “If you really wanted you could give us a three-minute editorial and we would run it today.”
KZMU continues to accept donations for the radiothon, and is offering t-shirts as thank you gifts. They will also be broadcasting live at the Moab Folk Festival on Saturday, Nov. 4 at the Moab Ball Field.
Those interested in radio broadcasting can attend an orientation at the station on Thursday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m., or audition for a radio play Nov. 11 at 10 a.m. or Nov. 12 at 2 p.m.
For more information go to www.kzmu.org, or call 435-259-8824