First Friday at Denver Open Media Foundation is extra-special today, as the nonprofit launches a major new media project – a radio station of the people by the people.
Going live on June 3, Open Media's low-power radio broadcast will air on 104.7 FM 24 hours a day, covering "most of Denver," with plans to offer blocks of both talk and Denver-centric music programming created exclusively by members of the community.
According to Tony Shawcross, founder and executive director of Open Media, the format for this radio station is unique — "the only FM station dedicated completely to Front Range content" — especially for a market the size of Denver. Although other radio stations offer a focus on local music, 104.7 FM will be the only place to deliver all local music all the time.
The station will run similarly to Open Media's public-access television station, in which community members receive training and equipment assistance to create their own shows, and audiences can vote for popular programs online. This voting determines how often certain programs get aired, determined by algorithm after live programming is finished for the day. As with Open Media's TV, everything submitted is guaranteed to be aired at least once, and when a programmer has completed three shows and is committed to continuing to produce content, that person can obtain a scheduled slot in programming.
Although the radio station is planning to launch on June 3, Open Media is collecting content, volunteer programmers and support, starting today with the debut of a fresh website and Kickstarter campaign. The goal for the Kickstarter campaign, which spans two First Fridays, is $25,000, which will help the nonprofit cover operational costs. In terms of sustaining the radio station post-Kickstarter, Shawcross says Open Media will sell underwriting, and the organization's staff is folding radio tasks into their normal workflow instead of hiring new staff.
Tonight Open Media hosts its monthly First Friday party, which is a free event at the organization's studios at 700 Kalamath and includes refreshments and performances by local comedians and bands. This month's Open Music Session features Brent Cowles, formerly of You Me and Apollo. (You can check out past sessions — as well as open-source song stems for remixes of your own.)
Tonight is also the first time that Denverites can sign up to contribute content or even submit prepared music or podcasts to be aired in June. To be a programmer for Open Media radio, you must have a membership — and a free membership will be given to the first 104 people who submit content. Programs and files submitted can be as long as two hours, so your rambling (and charming and interesting) podcast is fair game. For folks who have never used radio equipment before, there will be training sessions available nearly every day. Do you have an idea for radio, a song to play? It's time to take over the airwaves.
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Denver Open Media Foundation hosts its Open Music Session and First Friday celebration tonight, Friday, April 1, 7 p.m.