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Colorado community radio stations band together

The economic downturn has affected all of us in one way or another -- but its impact is particularly tough on non-profits, whose mission becomes impossible if they can no longer generate enough donations to keep the lights on and the doors open. That's the backdrop for the annual Rocky Mountain Community Radio conference, which takes place in Colorado Springs today and tomorrow. Representatives of seventeen Colorado stations from locations as disparate as Aspen, Cortez, Ignacio, Fort Collins, Boulder and Denver are expected to attend. "The conference is designed to be a good, hands-on opportunity for stations to seek advice from peers and receive professional development training that they might not otherwise be able to afford," notes Delaney Utterback, who, as general manager of Colorado Springs' KRCC-FM, is one of the de facto hosts of the event.

The conference isn't open to the public, and that's probably just as well, according to Chris Kennison, general manager of Northern Colorado's KRFC-FM. "If you're not in the non-profit community radio business, it's probably really boring," he jokes via e-mail. Still, Kennison feels that the gathering will pay dividends for listeners in a variety of ways.

"RMCR is a working group for sharing ideas and best practices," he points out. "We also help fund CAP COV" -- aka Capital Coverage, a cooperative program that provides Colorado legislative news reports to farflung outlets. That way, Kennison goes on, "we can all benefit from having eyes and ears at important events in state government."

By the way, he adds, "if your readers are not hip to community radio, it's the best music on the airwaves. I'm serious. If you listen to Clear Channel or bland NPR radio, I think you're missing out." As an example, he cites Live@Lunch, which airs Monday through Friday at noon (and can be streamed, along with other station programming, at this address). "We've had over 1,000 local and national acts on air in the last five years," he notes. "We've had Flobots, Tickle Me Pink, Motorhome, Cracker and many more on the air live" -- often "before the rest of the state even knew who they were."

Colorado is a better place for such programming. With luck, the attendees at the Rocky Mountain Community Radio conference will find new and innovative ways to keep it coming, even at times like these. -- Michael Roberts

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