Good morning, Montrose!
With the push of a button — literally — KVNF Community Radio — can go “live” between either its longtime original studio in Paonia, or its new facility — Studio M — at 11 N. Cascade, next to The Vine, in Montrose. It’s done so three times thus far, working out the bugs. Saturday, it’s the official grand opening of the long-time discussed Montrose radio studio and there’s a public hoorah to celebrate. KVNF is an affiliate of National Public Radio and its programming.
Jon Howard, the station’s general manager, gave the Notebook a nickel tour last week.
The volunteer-driven station has been a part of the fabric of life here in western Colorado for almost 40 years, given its eclectic music programming, the always-welcomed arts-and-entertainment calendar by longtime friendly voice Jeff Reynolds, local public affairs shows, and its heads-up for lost dogs.
Originally from Missouri, Howard has spent a career in the radio profession, mostly of the non-commercial genre, throughout the U.S. and the United Kingdom. He’s had three stations as a GM, joining KVNF four years ago. Getting Studio M off the ground was a priority, even though it’s his last rodeo. He and spouse Erica will be retiring to the Isle of Wight come September. “I’ve done well in building radio stations,” he says, “but it’s time to go home.” Howard explains that when he was hired by the KVNF board, his mission was simple enough regarding expansion into Montrose, “if you start it (Studio M), finish it.” Ten-plus years ago, when Montrose was riding high on new construction and the go-go real estate boom, there were meetings to discuss development of a KNVF/Montrose studio. With the economic bust that followed, those plans went dormant. With that lapse of time came trade-offs, particularly with technology. Back then, Howard says, KVNF was faced with permits and low-power transmission licenses from the FCC, aka red tape, and expensive microwave transmission “hops.” Today, Elevate high-fiber internet communications between Paonia and Montrose have made it easier. Studio M will again raise the visibility of KVNF, “Mountain Grown Community Radio,” via 89.1, 90.9 or KVNF.org. During the interview, several passers-by stuck their heads in the front door to ask what was going on inside, or to offer congratulations. It’s a good addition to Montrose’s historic downtown. Rich Hurt, president of the Montrose/Ouray Citizens Advisory Board, said Monday they hope to have a volunteer on site now and then as Studio M flourishes.
KVNF first went on the air Oct. 5, 1979, with a 10-watt transmitter and broadcast shack from Garvin Mesa near Paonia and a small network of translators and repeaters in the area. Slowly, steadily, the station grew. By small donations, by inclusiveness. Eventually seeking business underwriters and ascertaining affiliation with NPR which lifted its profile. The station moved into town and then in 2006, after a large capital campaign, a renovated, 6,000 square foot building and studio opened in downtown Paonia. All the while, improvements to its signal (now 8,000 watts) and tower were improved. KVNF now reaches into some 10,000 square miles of western Colorado. Studio M is the latest expansion of an ever-growing radio station that features some 80-plus volunteers, four full-time employees, four part-time staff. The station’s website explains a whole lot more. “What’s happening this week is the culmination of 10 to 20 years of planning, fund-raising and a lot of hard work,” Howard asserts. “KVNF is a throwback to what radio was – with a variety of programming, live musicians performing in the studios, local news. We’re going to continue this legacy.”
Jon Gordon of Montrose is a KVNF board member. He’s the former director of the Center for Mental Health. “I see this as a great opportunity for Montrose. Most of the support has been in the North Fork Valley. We’ve talked about expanding here for years and with it, expanding our reach into fundraising and programs which would mean more from NPR and more Montrose-centric interviews and programming.”
Of course, there will be a (block) party to commemorate.
Studio M will be celebrated outside from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 27. The N. Cascade portion of the street will be closed from Main to the alley. Broadcasts of ‘Pickin’ and ‘Redneck Riviera’ will be done from inside Studio M. The Vine will be serving food; the Horsefly Brewery will offer libations. Live music will feature local musicians: Gotta Be, Karen Mercer and Jedi George. Tickets to the Moab Folk Festival will be given away.
Stephen Woody was the publisher of community daily newspapers for 38 years in four cities, including the Montrose Daily Press, 1997-2011.