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Staff of new radio ready to go

Shauna Farnell
Radio Free Minturn, a station slated to broadcast on 107.9 FM in September, is trying to secure its lease with a radio tower on Upper Dowd Junction and is also trying to raise $40,000 to begin operation. About 100 individuals turned up to an informational gathering last weekend to show their support and interest in being involved with the project.
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MINTURN – Soundwaves don’t need a frequency to go a long way.If there were any doubts that the airwaves of the once-pirate Radio Free Minturn weren’t going to take flight, the sudden involvement of about 100 interested locals quelled them for those spearheading the project. A group of organizers for Radio Free Minturn, a new community station scheduled to air on 107.9-FM in September, launched a recruitment gathering Saturday in Minturn, and to their surprise, yielded a number of passionate individuals; not just Minturn locals, but residents from throughout the valley and even from outside of Eagle County. “That’s what it takes – there’s no community radio station without community involvement,” said Scott Willoughby, one of the masterminds behind Radio Free Minturn during its short-lived pirate existence from his living room between 1998 and 2000.

“That’s what we were hoping we’d achieve with this, just to spread the word,” he said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it certainly relieved some doubts.”The “doubts” were centered around the group’s goal of raising $40,000 and having all of the pieces in place – equipment, radio tower, personnel – to broadcast in September.While the $40,000 hasn’t rolled in as quickly as the names, and while the technicalities haven’t been ironed out for a lease on the radio tower, the personnel appears to be plentiful.”I’m overly optimistic that this is definitely going to happen,” said Liz Campbell, who was also among the original contingent for Radio Free Minturn. “Not only people who think it’s a good idea showed up, but people who had 35 years of experience in the broadcast industry. We’re getting calls and e-mails all the time from people who want to be involved.”

Free-range listeningThe allure of having a radio station centered around the community, local events, personalities and, most importantly, hours upon hours of commercial-free music, is obviously one that enchants many, each of whom were given pledge forms and fund-raising tools as well as assigned a particular category of responsibility per his or her respective skills and talents. Some signed up to spin music, some signed up to help glean sponsorship, some are Web site builders and some just want badly to dial up a station they can depend on for noncommercial tunes.”I like radio for the music,” said Minturn resident and musician Terry Armistead. “I love the arts, and I love culture. I’ve known about this (Radio Free Minturn) for a long time. I would love to see this happen. I feel like radio today is just a corporate entity. All I know is that when I listen, I don’t like what I hear. Hearing what’s in the pop charts isn’t appealing, especially in this mountain lifestyle. It seems to me there is music we would rather hear. I love everything – jazz, rock ‘n’roll, some pop … I listen to NPR for the news, and even though NPR is liberal radio, it’s got sponsorship. That kind of dictates where it goes. It would just be nice to listen to unbiased radio.”Radio Free Minturn has a contract with the Federal Communications Commission to begin broadcasting in September using the telecommunications tower on Upper Dowd Junction. A lease with the tower, however, has not come into fruition as of yet, nor has the $40,000 necessary to buy equipment, pay rent and procure the necessary materials. Although, without even intending for last Saturday’s gathering to be a fund-raiser, Radio Free reps found themselves more than $750 out of the hole after the event.A few different fund-raisers including a silent auction and party are on the calendar for June and July, and the crew feels that what they have already – interest and involvement – are the two key ingredients to making the radio dream a reality.

“The sort of momentum we’ve already generated is enough to carry us a long way, certainly to September,” Willoughby said. “This is an unprecedented opportunity. People really understand the concept of community radio, the opportunity that it presents. They get it. They want to be a part of it. They feel this is something that’s good for the Vail Valley. There are so many different elements of it, from basic freedom of speech opportunities and bridging the gap to community educational platforms and alternative activities.”Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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