When I was a kid, perhaps my closest friend was my radio. Most nights, after everyone in the house was asleep, I’d listen to whatever I could pick up on the little clock radio on my nightstand, but especially KXRX-AM, a San Jose news station, which is long gone now. Those call letters now belong to an FM station in Walla Walla.
Late on Sunday nights, I listened to two shows in particular: A gospel music show, followed by a talk show featuring at-risk kids at a group home in upstate New York.I grew up in a tough neighborhood, and radio let me hear the personal stories of other kids 3,000 miles away. I learned about how they dealt with peer pressure and conflict, and I got a lot of practical advice and a sense of hope that I could rise above the obstacles in my own life.
If you’re like me and you grew up with radio, you know what it can do for you. Just having it on in the background makes you feel connected to some other part of the world, less insignificant and less alone, all without demanding your full attention.
And then there was the music!KXRX ended its broadcasting each night with a similar mix of songs. I still have a soft spot in my heart for two campy, sentimental songs I must have heard a million times: “Eres Tu” by Mocedades, and “Lo Mucho que Te Quiero” by René y René. (This was East San Jo in the ’70s, kids!)
KOME was San Jose’s best rock station at the time, and it turned me on to music that I loved then and still do. They had a nighttime DJ, Dennis Erectus, who was so irreverent that he made Howard Stern sound like Paul Harvey. (I think the grownups at the FCC didn’t get his jokes.) Despite its success, KOME disappeared in 1998, and its call letters are now used by a station somewhere in Texas.
During my teens, my dad introduced me to KFAT in Gilroy, a hilarious, edgy, free-form country station.On the air for only eight years, it was hugely influential, becoming a model for the community radio concept in California. It folded in 1983 and its frequency started broadcasting elevator music. Now a station in Anchorage has the KFAT call sign.
I’ve been privileged to manage KQNY’s on-air operations for almost 10 years, and I’ve been involved with it since the late 1990s. If you’re just finding out about us, KQNY is Plumas County’s only nonprofit, noncommercial, nonpartisan, and nonsectarian media outlet.It’s owned by Plumas Community Radio, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.It exists because of the interest, dedication, and hard work of a large number of local people, and we’re very fortunate to have it here. There are many larger communities that don’t have anything like it. In terms of population, Plumas County is a pretty small place for such a large project.
We play a wide variety of music and locally-produced community affairs programs — content you won’t hear anywhere else. We inform listeners of events and matters of public concern, and we teach local people how to operate a radio station and produce their own programs.We broadcast 24/7 on 91.9 FM, and we stream our signal on the internet. You can hear us anywhere in the world.
I do my own show on the station just for fun. Every so often, someone lets me know that they like my show, or one of our many other live shows, or just KQNY in general.Sometimes I’m just meeting them for the first time, but they know the station, and that makes me feel energized, grateful, and happy to be part of something that brings so much enjoyment to them.
However, nothing, including a radio station, lasts forever.Most of the stations I grew up listening to are defunct. And now, in the current economic environment, the continued existence of our community radio station in Plumas County is gravely threatened.
Unlike commercial media outlets and public broadcasting, KQNY exists only on the generosity of the local community. We depend, first and foremost, on the dedication, time, and energy of a group of local people who volunteer to DJ and host our programs, to keep the station working, and to serve on our board of directors.
The best efforts of our people won’t pay the bills, though.Fortunately, we’re funded by many local businesses and organizations. If you listen to the station, you’ll hear us thank them many times every hour. Their support has been very solid over the years, and we wouldn’t be on the air without them. Also, there are many local individuals who donate money to us, and we’re grateful to every one of them.In so many ways, we know that our community values us and believes in us.
But KQNY will not survive unless its community’s financial support ramps up to keep us ahead of increasing expenses.Most of our operating costs, such as utilities, communications costs and music licensing fees, all of which are beyond our control, have gradually increased. We’re doing everything we can with the resources we have. We’re bringing on additional revenue sources, and we’ve cut costs wherever we can without endangering our basic operation.
And we have ambitious plans for the future! We’re continuing to expand the range of music and informational programming that we currently offer. We’re training new DJs and show hosts. We’re working with local agencies to be able to provide information to the public in emergencies. And we’re always open to suggestions as to how we can better serve the community. But none of this can happen without your financial support. You. Yes, you. The person reading this. Independent community radio will stay in Plumas County if, and only if, more people in the area are willing to fund it on an ongoing basis.
If already supporting KQNY in any way, you have our sincerest gratitude, and we hope you’ll be with us into the future.
If you have a business that’s not yet supporting KQNY, please contact our Underwriting Manager, Mel Rockett, at (530) 283-0901 for information on how you can increase the local exposure of your business while helping to preserve an important part of local cultural life.
If you’re not currently a supporter and you want to see KQNY continue to exist, then we need you to go to our website, www.kqny919.org, and click on the “Support KQNY” tab for information on how to become an individual member. Or you can send a check payable to Plumas Community Radio to PO Box 350, Quincy, CA 95971. We have cool goods to send you in return for different levels of support, but donations of any amount are most welcome, and all contributions are tax deductible.
Over the years, many of us have worked very hard and invested our time, energy, and money to establish Plumas Community Radio and to keep it going. We can’t let it die. We can’t let KQNY’s callsign belong to anyone else. It’s ours.
Thank you in advance for helping to keep nonprofit community radio alive and well!