KDEE-LP: Educating and Empowering Sacramento

Operating from the California Black Chamber of Commerce, KDEE-FM is an African-American cultural heritage station near Sacramento, CA. Program director Frontis Amney's light-hearted attitude ensures there's never a dull moment on air. For example, they might be discussing water pollution and “We might play Boys II Men's 'A River Runs Through It' or TLC's 'Waterfalls' during the show.”

The station is all about creativity and sharing that with the African-American community. At KDEE community members produce programs they would like to hear, not what corporate America decides they want. Their “Going Green” show is “the only environmental program hosted by Black Americans for Black Americans.” “In Black America” profiles African Americans who are “making strides in the past and present.” “Real Talk about Real Estate” is a call-in talk show about the housing market and news surrounding it.

KDEE aims to speak to the virtues of its listeners and talk about things that matter to them “right at home." On “Chocolate News," community members discuss local and national news stories and how they affect African Americans. It's pretty different from your average news program: “We might be talking about a couple brothers in the NFL who are making moves and tell them to keep it going,” Amney said.

Their mission has been evolving since the station began in 2004. “There are a whole lot of minorities who don’t have a voice,” Amney tells me as we discuss the station’s changing vision. In response, KDEE is adapting itself to be the “voice of minorities" in the Sacramento area. KDEE is a “cultural station, a heritage station” that has the potential to attract listeners of all kinds. Its 10,000+ song music library can be an additional pull for new listeners. They have had listeners calling in tears after hearing a song they listened to as a child.

With their staff of seven and four volunteers, KDEE does more than play music and broadcast news. They also have a computer lab where radio workshops are held. “We teach people what we do, teaching people how to do radio without it being scary,” Amney explains. Sharing the building with the California Black Chamber of Commerce means they often connect with the groups served by the Chamber and the activities it hosts. Before KDEE, there were no local African American-owned and -operated stations. As the hub for local African-American media, it serves as a meeting place. Twice a week, KDEE hosts the “Community Calendar” to discuss upcoming events. Creating a space for African Americans is part of KDEE’s main goals, and one they are making great strides towards.

Amney’s advice to other groups that want to start community stations is to “Find a group of people who are down with the idea of serving the greater good,” because “it’s not something that you are doing for the money… you’re doing it for a great good.” At KDEE, they know that it takes big time to run even a small station. With their powerfully creative team, they are certainly making an impact while empowering their community.

Thanks to Beth Patel and Lucy Saunders-Pappentick for putting together this profile.