KGNU has always been about variety. For nearly four decades, the Boulder-based community radio station has followed a fiercely eclectic on-air approach, offering listeners a daily mix of news, debate and, of course, music. That model is about to change, thanks to the web and a grant of about $19,000 from a local nonprofit. On Monday, KGNU will kick off AfterFM, a 24/7 online station dedicated solely to music.
The new music stream at afterfm.com is set to feature a wide range of programs and specialties. New and returning DJs will have the time and freedom to delve into vintage reggae, old-timey Americana and Cajun and Zydeco styles. While the programming on KGNU's on-air stream in Denver and Boulder won't change, the new online format will allow the station to cater to a specific part of their audience.
"KGNU is an unusual radio station with a mix of music and news," notes KGNU Music Director John Schaefer. "It gets a little confusing for people. Some people are into it, but some people just want music. That was the idea behind this whole project."
The grant from the media nonprofit VOQAL gave Schaefer and the rest of the KGNU the freedom to build an alternative for those listeners. AfterFM will stick to KGNU's (and the FCC's) standards as far as profanity goes, but the freedom of cyberspace will allow DJs to get into the deep tracks of some pretty obscure genres. The website will include streaming applications specifically for smartphones and tablet computers.
"Although we play dubstep or vintage Cajun music at the station, we don't have enough [space] in the program grid," Schaefer explains. "It's really hard to create space for programs with the grid as packed as it is after 35 years of being a radio station. If someone wanted to do a metal show, at this point, we'd have a lot more ease getting a space for that."
The content through KGNU's new online music stream, available through afterfm.com, will likely be familiar to longtime fans of the station. Veteran KGNU DJ Dr. Martin is set to return to the station for "Dr. Martin's Medicine Show," a program focused on roots and Americana music set to air on Sunday mornings.
Plenty of local musicians and advocates are set to take to the online airwaves, as well. Dan Willging is set to host a Cajun and Zydeco program titled "Bayou Stomp." "The Skavenger" is set to feature the Mighty Twisters' guitarist T Valladares and bassist Sam Fuqua (who also serves as KGNU station manager) as DJs. Sub.Mission, DJs K-Nee, Low Key and Backbeat's own Shawn White (aka Big Styles) and members of the music advocacy group Communikey are also set to lead programs.
But Schaefer insists the AfterFM web stream won't affect the current mix of music and news on the KGNU station. Instead, the new music site is the first part of a larger push to offer specialized web content for listeners. "We're not trying to migrate music away from the broadcast in any way. That's about 70 percent of our weekly broadcast schedule. That remains as is," Schaefer maintains. "It's kind of just expanding on we do."
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