with Michael Young

Search form

Hundreds 'Learn, Network and Get Inspired' at Community Radio Conference in Denver

DENVER — They came to talk about Advocacy and Community Engagement, the Future of Music Libraries, Solution-Based Journalism,  Music Identity & Tastemaking  and much, much more. 

Including a gang of four from KVMR 89.5 FM Nevada City, several hundred staff members, volunteers, independent producers, board members and other assorted representatives of nearly a hundred non-profit, community-oriented radio stations (some not even on the air yet) gathered here last month to learn, network and just plain get inspired at the 41st National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) annual conference 

"Please refuse to stay stuck in the same conundrum in an increasingly perilous paradigm," exhorted NFCB CEO Sally Kane, a second generation community radio activist whose parents helped co-found a community radio station in rural Paonia, Colorado back in, yeah, the 1970s. 

"Ask yourself 'What's working?', 'Why is that?' and 'Who cares?'," Kane added at the awards banquet closing the conference. "You need fire in the belly...as someone who looks at  the (Rocky) Mountains every day, remember it's one step at a time to get over them." 

For KVMR's 28-year-old Music Director Sean Dooley-Miller, he says he ran into 10 to 15 new stations in just the first day or so -- some on air, some not -- and they had plenty of questions. 

"It just goes to show that we've got a reputation for being a well-established community station for nearly 40 years," he noted.  "And people want to be part of how we've succeeded." 

Some of those asking help of Sean were double his age, yet many were younger. 

"It was like a whirlwind," he grinned. "It reaffirms we're doing pretty well..." 


Like Dooley-Miller, it was also KVMR General Manager Julie Chiarelli's third NFCB conference go-around, where she again left pretty happy. 

"I'm impressed with how much people are able to do with so little resources," she said.  "What many of these stations accomplish is because of the talents they have as staff and volunteers." 

She'd be among the first to admit that's true at KVMR. 

"Sure, we are one of the older ones (stations) -- and bigger ones -- but things are always changing," she explained. " There are always people out there doing things we can be learning from..." 

For Chiarelli, there were some "really cool:" youth radio programs, which got her "scheming about some sort of youth radio camp." 

"There were some pretty provocative speakers as well," she added. "Their tone reflected the political time we're living in...everything is more heightened." 

That would include native activist/journalist  Jenni Monet, also a member of NFCB's Board of Directors, who told how she is still facing charges for simply being a journalist covering the Standing Rock demonstrations in North Dakota. 

"I was asking for my constitutionally mandated phone call and being denied it," she told the conference in a keynote address. "Native women being held in the dog cages with me wanted me to keep quiet, thinking my complaint would result in more retribution against us." 



Longtime KVMR Program Director Steve Baker -- far closer to his twentieth NFCB conference than his first -- hosted a breakfast roundtable on programming  when former KVMR manager Steve Ramsey (now general manager at KBCS-FM, Bellevue, Washington) was the first to walk up and join Baker, saying, "Whoa, a radio guy reading a newspaper. Now there's the future." 

Baker, Ramsey and former KVMR News Director Brian Bahouth (now involved in a new Carson City, Nevada community station) held court with a full crew of stations that recently have gone on air, some that are still in planning and a few veteran outlets as well. 

Among those at the programming roundtable  was Program Director Desiree Bayonet of  little WOWD-LP in Takoma Park, Maryland, a brand new station whose founders include former NPR producer/reporter Marika Partridge. Later in the week, Bayonet was there to accept the Golden Spotlight Award for NFCB station of the year. 

"What a treat to see Desiree, a newcomer who has great ideas and fit right in, win these honors," mused Baker. "Another bright moment of our future..." 

Still another winner, Sue Schardt, head of the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR), was awarded the Bader Award for Lifetime Achievement and Service to Community Radio.  Schardt has spearheaded a series of CPB-funded "Localores" -- featuring independent radio producers working with locals to create a professional sound and sparkle to feature series. 

"My first NFCB conference was where I found my people," she admitted. "And that's been true to this very day.  I'm always seeking new voices, and it's never stopped." 

So Schardt says she's at her very best when she "listens with my musical ear." 

"This is our time when we have the power of media to reshape the world, opening a golden age of community radio and lifting our feet off the ground." 

Sounds to us her musical ear is already at work. 

"Together, we can learn to fly..." 

Got it. 


KVMR will once again broadcast live from the annual Nevada County Fair, beginning next Wednesday and running through Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. each day and going to 6:30 p.m. (Wed-Fri), 6 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday .