As KZMU nears its $65,000 fundraising goal for the year, the radio station is making plans to increase community participation with new on-air volunteers, but without the familiar voice of program director Christy Williams-Dunton.
“It’s not easy for me to give this up,” expressed Dunton of leaving the station, “I am so passionate about it.”
Dunton is moving on to take a position with the Museum of Moab, starting Dec 1. She is not planning on disappearing, though. Dunton will continue to be present on the air and involved with KZMU as a volunteer.
The station is still contemplating how to fill Dunton’s role, but they are optimistic that the community will step up to fill her shoes. “We’re all sort of in denial about the post-Christy world,” remarked KZMU music director Serah Mead. She expects Dunton to remain a familiar face at the station, however, saying, “Once you’re simply a volunteer, you give more.”
Dunton feels the time is right for her to step aside. She spoke of her time with the station, beginning in 1980, and said that was “a very long time to be doing this,” adding that she is ready to take on a new challenge — and she believes KZMU is, too.
“I could not leave KZMU unless I felt it was in a good place,” Dunton said. “You could say it’s the end of an era. Culture is suspect to these ebbs and flows of an era.”
Dunton and Mead discussed the shift they see happening at KZMU, in relation to modern media and recent debates over net neutrality. Dunton spoke of independent radio, calling it, “The last form of non-commercial community space that nobody owns ... in a lot of ways it’s a precursor to social media as a means to communicate.”
Mead expanded on this, saying that she hopes, “for KZMU to be able to grow and maintain that level of relevancy in the community.”
In line with this, the station brought on board seven new on-air volunteers. The newcomers bring, “A lot of new, exciting energy,” according to Mead.
“I can envision more podcasts and spoken word stuff, some people to cover specific, marginalized populations, and get them to tell their stories,” Dunton said of her hopes for the station’s new era. “KZMU is not just an outlet for people who want to share their favorite song with us, but it can also be an outlet for all types of media.”
Station manager Marty Durlin added, “There’s so many things that a community radio station does, and that’s really the whole reason for the station. To offer opportunities for people for creative and political and social expression, and to spread their wings in some creative way, and I just hope to see more of that.”
Durlin spoke of the remaining fundraising the station hopes to complete before the end of the year, in order to embark in a new direction. “We’re still hoping we make the goal. If we don’t, we’ll be OK, but we have to start making these goals eventually,” she said. As of now, the station is about $4-5,000 short.
For now, the station is focusing on two upcoming events. One is a radio play produced by Durlin, which will take place Feb. 16-18 at Star Hall. The other is Dunton’s going-away party, which is a potluck and will take place at the KZMU on Sun. Dec. 10 at 4 p.m. The party will be is open to the public.
“The invitation is wide open,” said Durlin, of the party, “It’s a Christy kind of Christmas.”