All-volunteer community station Radio Free Minturn is re-kindling interest

New Radio Free Minturn board members J.K. Perry, left, and Alex Griffin, right, join former board president Austin Richardson, center, in the station's studio. Perry and Griffin are working to build community involvement in the all-volunteer station.

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Radio Free Minturn’s station ID call letters are KLNX and the stereo signal is located on the FM dial at 107.9 MHz, reaching listeners in Minturn, Vail, Eagle-Vail, Avon and Edwards. To learn more about becoming a volunteer DJ and other ways to support Radio Free Minturn, go to" target="_blank">class="Hyperlink"> or email">class="Hyperlink"> .

MINTURN — Radio Free Minturn is still on the air, and on the upswing.

Early this year, Alex Griffin and J.K. Perry took over management of the station from Austin Richardson, a longtime volunteer who not long ago found himself as the only board member.

Perry and Richardson are friends, and Griffin met Richardson through Perry. All three are dedicated volunteers, and although Richardson is currently taking a break from the station, Perry and Griffin are quick to credit Richardson’s work in keeping the station running.

The three met for the first time in early January and set up a couple of board meetings that month.

After that first meeting with Richardson, Griffin said it was an easy decision to jump in to help the station.

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“(Perry) and I looked at each other and said, ‘we’ve got to give this a shot,’” Griffin said. “There are too many working bones in place — we just need the connective tissue.”

The job now is to flesh out that skeleton.

More attention, enthusiasm

For an operation that had seemed to lose much of its mojo — the volunteer DJ core was down to four or so — those meetings drew a good bit of attention.

“About 20 people showed up at each meeting,” Perry said. “They were all passionate about the radio station, offering ideas, offering to volunteer and offering donations.”

Those donations are important. While it doesn’t take much money to keep the all-volunteer station on the air — about $15,000 per year — the station had run on reserves the past few months.

Now, a $10,000 challenge grant is in place, and matching donations are starting to come in. Businesses are being sought to underwrite programs.

And, most important, people are coming into the organization.

In a matter of weeks, more than a dozen people have volunteered to be DJs.

One of those new voices, DJ Trenton, has a show called “Hectic Eclectic” on Thursdays from 9 to 11 p.m. Griffin said he’s been impressed with that he’s heard.

“It’s punk to country,” Griffin said. “He’s got a lot of flair.”

A radio community

Beyond simply having people on the air, more volunteers means more listeners.

“Word of mouth is important,” Perry said, adding that DJs are likely to tell their friends about an upcoming show. And some of today’s listeners will become tomorrow’s volunteers.

While everyone associated with the station is a volunteer, Perry said everyone who’s on the air has to do things by the book.

People have to sign a contractor form and code of conduct forms. Since the station is federally licensed, all those rules have to be observed.

While a lot has been done, there’s still much more to do, and the new board members have some big ideas.

One of those ideas is to set up a booth at the summer Minturn Market. Griffin said it would be fun to recruit high school students for a sports-talk show about the local scene.

“What if we got the technology to remote broadcast?” Griffin added. That could help Radio Free Minturn branch out to community events, from local sports to broadcasting live from the market to sharing the town’s summer concert series.

But that’s going to take more people who are as committed to the station as its new board members.

“One thing we’ve talked about is really making the organization solvent into the future,” Perry said. “It’s not just a year-to-year thing.”

That’s going to require money in the bank to act on creative ideas.

“Getting that part stable is a large part of what we want to do,” Perry added. “It’s hard as a volunteer organization to keep things running smoothly. Having things in place monetarily and structurally into the future would be great.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, or @scottnmiller.

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