New Mexico: Voice of the Valley

Copyright 2005 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

January 16, 2005 Sunday


LENGTH: 637 words

HEADLINE: Voice of the Valley

BYLINE: Emily Crawford Journal Staff Writer

From Wikipedia: the Pathetics, a Dixon band, perforning at a KLDK benifit for the Embudo Valley Community Library, January 14, 2007 The photo was taken by Clark Case, who along with the rest of the Dixon All Stars were waiting in the wings to take the stage


Small town radio station manager and a host of volunteers worked to get music, story time and other programming on the air

DIXON -- The small communities of the Embudo Valley south of Taos have never gotten much, if anything, in the way of radio reception.

But Clark Case, a local wood worker, and a merry bunch of radio enthusiasts have turned this town, population 1,222, into the voice of the valley with their new FM station KLDK 96.5.

Operating out of a narrow room next to the local library, the 100-watt frequency covers a five-mile radius, reaching from Dixon to Ojo Sarco to the southeast.

"It's kind of a pie in the sky for a dinky town to have a station," Case said. "But now, people are realizing it's really happening."

KLDK is one of approximately 1,000 new low-power FM stations the Federal Communications Commission agreed to license in January 2000. The stations are restricted to noncommercial educational broadcasting only.

FCC chairman William Kennard proposed creating the community stations to address concerns that diversity was plummeting on the radio landscape. Low-power FM station licenses were eliminated in the late 1970s, prompting radio "pirates" to take to the public airwaves illegally. In 1999, the FCC cracked down on the small, illegally run stations, silencing many of them.

On its Web site, the FCC states that the LPFM service "is designed to create new opportunities for new voices to be heard on the radio."

This was good news for radio fans, local musicians, amateur engineers and DJs, and listeners with a taste for the eclectic. For Case, it meant there was a possibility that the valley could have its own station.

On the air since Dec. 20, the station is taking its role as a community voice to heart -- and has also been a product of that community. In order to buy the technical equipment required to get on the air, volunteers raised $20,000 by holding fund-raisers, writing grants and soliciting donations, Case said.

Now that the station, which is licensed to the Embudo Valley Library, is on the air, Case is busy implementing some of his programming dreams. Many of them involve the community's youth.

He has formed a radio club at the Dixon elementary school. The students will create their own weekly radio programs, which will air on KLDK. Story time is at 7:30 p.m., and for the last few days, Winnie the Pooh and friends have ruled the airwaves.

Nighttime music programs offer willing ears a taste of the out-of-the-ordinary. All of the station's music is provided by those acting as DJs and members of the community. CDs are converted to MP3 files and downloaded onto the station's computer.

The diverse music programming is a reflection of the eclectic tastes of the community, Case said. On Wednesday nights, the classic country program is followed by heavy metal. "Pacific Coast Rambler" is an alt-country show on Thursdays and is followed by a reggae show.

Cultural Energy, a radio and media nonprofit group in Taos, is currently providing KLDK with programming, such as public lectures by Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now." Case hopes to subscribe to Pacifica News Service in the near future.

Now that the station is a reality, Case is discovering just how much work and programming it takes to be on the air 24 hours a day.

"You think it all up and see it in your mind, and the reality is it takes a lot of hours to fill up a week of programming," he said.

But he is getting a lot of help. Case estimated that at least 50 people will have produced their own show in the first year. Nearly 20 people are actively involved in running the station now, and Case expects that number to grow.

It is not likely however, that KLDK will ever outgrow its mission.

"The intent was that this would be a valley station," Case said. "I knew that this was something the town would benefit from."

GRAPHIC: PHOTO BY:EDDIE MOORE/JOURNAL PHOTO: Color Doug, a dog belonging to Clark Case, lounges on the floor of radio station KLDK-FM in Dixon. Case leads a group of area residents in operating the low-power station, which has been on the air since Dec. 20 and broadcasts to a five-mile radius. PHOTO BY:EDDIE MOORE/JOURNAL PHOTO: Color Clark Case leads a small group of volunteers who operate KLDK-FM, a 100-watt radio station located in Dixon. The low-power station has been on the air since Dec. 20. PHOTO: Color The music played on KLDK-FM, a 100-watt station in Dixon, is supplied by volunteers and listeners. PHOTO: Color KLDK-FM, a 100-watt radio station that broadcasts to a five-mile radius around Dixon, operates out of this small room next to the local library.

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