At 93.9 on the FM dial, KCMJ radio station is streaming live as the only local, licensed Colorado Springs member-run community radio station.
Its launch party tonight will take place at the Stargazers Theatre with three area bands and a “ceremonial flipping of the switch,” said Dennis Apuan, founder and chair of the station.
“It’s really a fascinating time. Local residents get to share their passions, their concerns, their issues,” Apuan said. “It creates community. KCMJ fosters civic activity.”
The station was formed to provide a platform for under-represented individuals and groups in Colorado to communicate their messages, Apuan said.
“What has been lacking will have a home — the marginalized voices that don’t have access to the media, local artists, musicians. KCMJ is willing to be more experimental with our programming. We’re not after ratings,” Apuan said. “It will be a platform for issues not heard, issues of social justice, communities of color, working families. We don’t get to hear those voices very often.”
“If you were to just listen to this station for seven days nonstop, you would see what this station stands for,” said General Manager Dave Gardner.
The station is also open to airing Spanish, Korean and other non-English shows.
“We are constantly improving programming,” Gardner said. Programming is split half music, half talk. More than 2,000 locally produced shows have taken to the airwaves already.
After failing three times, Congress and the U.S. Senate approved the Local Community Radio Act in 2010 and was signed into law in 2011, opening airwaves for new low-power radio stations. Knowing the expansion would eventually be opened in Colorado Springs by the Federal Communications Commission, a group of people here immediately organized to prepare an application for a slice of the airwaves.
Apuan said the group could have faced competition from other nonprofits, churches, unions and others eligible to apply for the single opportunity in Colorado Springs to create a community station. The leaders behind KCMJ submitted their application during “a historic two-week licensing window,” in October 2013.
The FCC approved the application in February 2014, with no competition for the channel.
The station has been streaming round-the-clock since it moved to the Gill Center for Public Media last year, but waited to formally launch.