Minturn radio’s waves have yet to come to shore | VailDaily.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Minturn radio’s waves have yet to come to shore

Shauna Farnell

MINTURN – The story of Radio Free Minturn can be told much like that of the Colorado Jackalope. It’s a fascinating creature, but nobody has actually seen or heard it yet.The community-run radio station has leapt about every hurdle imaginable as far as licenses and leases go. It was way back in 2000 that a handful of free radio enthusiasts in Minturn took advantage of a low-powered radio service authorized by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to launch a commercial-free station with goals of authentic, uncensored, high-variety music and talk broadcasting. But after complications surrounding Sept. 11, 2001, time-consuming fundraising efforts and a change of ownership of the Upper Dowd Junction communication tower, where Radio Free Minturn will transmit, the station’s launch has been pushed back a month here, a year there, but is now setting its sights on March 15 to make its first waves. “It’s more of a fact that we’re all volunteers and we don’t have a tremendous amount of dedicated time for this project,” said Minturn’s Liz Campbell, one of the pioneers of Radio Free Minturn. “Then, of course, we had the hiccups with the tower. It came down to the final hour, then we couldn’t get on it. We needed to get up and running, so the FCC granted us an extension.”The original launch date for the station was last September. Then Mike King, the previous operator of the Dowd tower, couldn’t guarantee a lease, and the tower was bought by Traer Creek, LLC, which have since granted the station, which is established as a 501c3 nonprofit organization, a lease of a mere $100 per month. “We wanted to make it possible for them to be able to launch it,” said Traer Creek spokesman Dan Christopherson. “We didn’t want the cost of our lease to get in the way. It’s a small, community-based organization. It’s something Traer Creek felt would be a good way to make a donation to the community. It’s a public-supported project.”Technology doesn’t come for freeStill, Radio Free Minturn, like other local stations that use the tower, is responsible for purchasing its own equipment. Station organizers have estimated the start-up costs at $40,000, with annual operating costs estimated at $28,000. So far, the group has collected $16,500. Ginn Club and Resorts has offered to match fundraising efforts up to $20,000. The station has also received a pledge of $1,200 for first-year operating costs.Organizers have hired an engineer to climb the tower and install equipment, but he will likely need to travel to the tower by snowmobile. Campbell said the station will begin sending a signal via microwave to the tower beginning this weekend, and the licensing process from then on will be at least 30 days.”Our biggest concern is to buy all the proper equipment on the tower – the studio transmitter link, the antenna …” Campbell said. “Then we need to find out how we can start spending money on the studio. It could be pretty bare bones to start.”Bare bones would describe Radio Free Minturn in its days of yore, when it was operated as a pirate station from a Minturn living room from 1998 to 2000, at which point it was shut down.”It’s an incredibly simple process, as far as transmission,” Campbell said. “In the beginning, we were using something that looked like a breadbox. I eventually want to have a turntable, an ability for people to plug in their Ipods … We want it to be high-tech. We want two computers. We’ll probably just have one when we start.”Organizers will attempt to raise the final $3,500 for the station’s start-up costs through additional fundraising efforts this winter and spring. For more information on the station, visit http://www.minturnradio.org.Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext.14632, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


Support Local Journalism