Independent Community Radio: Why it Still Matters & Why You Should Care

I am often asked, mostly by my friends at work, as they see my escapades erupting over social media: how much are you getting paid for all this stuff?  I usually smile, maybe giggle a bit, a say, “It’s really not about the money”, or something to that effect.  But seriously, it has come up often enough for me to give it some serious thought.  I am an indie writer.  I think my stuff is pretty cool, and it does seem to be catching on, but I have no illusions about becoming the next Stephen King.  I have a great job, and it provides well for my family and my life…. so really, if we really stop and think about it, if money is taken care of, one way or another, and in the end… after the bills are paid it is all about what you do with your time….  I would hazard a guess that Mr. King is not having more fun than I am.

Folks, I am having the time of my life!  This last weekend was the Annual Mesa Music Festival, and Dani Cutler of KWSS 93.9 Independent Radio here in Phoenix asked me to be the photographer for the event.  Now, Mesa Music Festival is trying to build itself up into a true community, main street festival, similar to South by Southwest: where various businesses, both occupied and not, are utilized for venue areas.  Mesa Music Festival offered eleven different venues over three days of music!  The KWSS stages were in an old bank, which was redone with two stage areas, and the old office spaces were turned into living artist galleries: where not only were their paintings on display, but they were also actively at work, painting on walls and canvases alike!  So all in all, just covering the few stages I had to cover, made for about 25 different performers/ bands over the two days the Galleria was in operation.  I was stoked, and it was an honor to be asked to photograph the event for KWSS.

You see, it really is about community.  After your bills are paid…. it is about what you DO.  The more I have reached out, shown myself as not only another artist within the Phoenix community with a product to offer, but also a person willing to give back to that community by supporting other artists, writing about their accomplishments, and volunteering at community, artistic events.  Folks, I am having the time of my life!  And no, I can’t quit my day job…. but my point is that it really does not matter.

Get Out!  Get Involved!  LEAVE A MARK, my friends.

KWSS 93.9 FM is entering their PLEDGE week, and obviously for a non-profit organization, this time of year is essential.  Not only will Dani and the the other KWSS disc jockies be offering special programming this week, but this next weekend at Pho Cho will be a huge all day extravaganza of music and live broadcasting as we bring the yearly Pledge Drive to a close.

Did you know, that for less than the cost of one Venti Peppermint Mocha, per month, you can make a substantial difference to your community?  Seriously…… less than 1 Starbucks a month, can do a whole lot, Amigos.

Being able to hang with Dani Cutler for most of the weekend, I had a chance to ask her what the top reasons community radio was still essential were:  As always, she was super ready to participate, and a hoot to talk to!

Reason 1:  Support

Dani Cutler of KWSS:  We can support local artists that other stations will not play in rotation.  We can support local small business with very reasonable sponsorship packages.

Two examples here: Not only will you hear great local acts on KWSS like New Chums, Wyves, Bear Ghost, The Woodworks, Jane n the Jungle, Harper and the Moths, The Sink or Swim, Banana Gun….. folks, seriously, the quality here in Phoenix, is mind blowing! but, KWSS was also the first local station to get Bella Donna, the Billboard #29 rock song in the country by The Black Moods, into rotation.  Also, on a personal note, as an author, KWSS has had me on air for each of my book releases, and as a small press owner, they are certainly on my short list when it comes to where I choose to dedicate my patronage.

Reason 2: Variety

Dani:  You do not hear the same songs in high rotation because we don’t have to cater to large markets.  We 100% control out playlists and the music we play.

Someday, I think every music lover dreams of escaping to Mexico and being The Last Real DJ with the ghost of Tom Petty.  Just give me a few air waves and I will give you the soundtrack of your life!  Community radio is that kind of freedom, for a DJ.  It is a tip of the hat to the old day, when DJs did far more than just play the same playlist over and over and again and read a few ads.

Reason 3:  Community

Dani:  We are at the local shows.  The musicians become our friends.  When we meet listeners it’s as if we have known them forever.

This!  I can attest to this 100%.  About as year and a half ago, I leaped into this Phoenix music scene, hoping that by showing my support, they would welcome me as a fellow artist, another maker….. trying to put something new into the world.  This scene has done so, a thousand fold.  It becomes like a family, and that community is centered in the local radio and the potential reach of that medium.  In my case, I add writing and blog articles to that smorgasbord of awesomeness.  And it is indeed, quite the community!

Reason 4:  Passion

Dani:  Our demographic loves this scene as much as we love it, and together we keep the scene rising.

It really does become a grass-roots type of organization.  It is a whole bunch of folks whose really only goal, is to see their friends succeed.  They work together, they cross mediums, they collaborate…. and most of it, is done for little to no cash value at all.  It is done because….

As I mentioned at the start.  Once you take away Mr. King’s money….. what does he do?  Where does he go?  Most of us…. have day jobs.  We work our butts off, and then we dedicate that time…… that time any person must fill….. with something…… we dedicate that time to the things that we love.  Music.  Art.  Literature.  And the community that has grown out of that, again working together…. begins to propel everyone involved.

To greater heights.

Knowing that, especially as a writer, that my life, the stories I tell grand-kids someday…. is for all intents and purposes pretty dang okay, even compared to Mr. King….. it does me good.  It keeps the focus on what you do with your time… not the money that you make.

Thank you KWSS for all you do for this community, and friends….. please consider that cost of a cup of coffee….. do without for one day, and become a Patron of community radio.

It’ll go a whole lot further than a cup of mostly milk.


Keep the Greasy Side Down my Friends !



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