Dillon Ragar: He may be just 15, but he’s already riding the airwaves
Portrait 2011 — Volume 3: Up-and-Comers
After a while Dillon Ragar’s middle school principal started to wonder why the seventh-grader occasionally scooted in late to class.
For his age, the reason for the tardiness would have been a stretch of the imagination.
At 12, the boy had developed a knack for radio. Well before many of his classmates rolled out of bed, the preteen was broadcasting live on his own radio show. Ragar, now 15, was, and still is, the youngest programmer at KAFM 88.1, the Grand Valley’s sole community radio station.
“People were a little skeptical,” Ragar said, remembering back to the days when his first show aired between 6 to 9 a.m. “They didn’t realize I was the programmer.”
Fellow programmer and longtime board member John Anglim said he recalls when Ragar took to the microphone. It was during a fund drive, and the boy was hanging around the station. Ragar’s mother, Claudia, also is a KAFM board member.
Anglim asked Ragar if he wanted to go on the air, not knowing what to expect.
“He didn’t hesitate. You saw instantly that he was just a natural,” Anglim said. “It wasn’t long after that he was doing shows. Some people get sort of timid. He’s got the just the right amount of the gift of gab. He just took to it and he was fearless.”
Ragar’s show, Radio Rapture, airs from 4 to 6:30 p.m. every third Thursday of the month. His music choices span a range including reggae, rock, hip-hop and electronic. Sometimes the songs he plays date back years before he was born. Other times, the music is cutting-edge, new music that youth are drawn to. Having the flexibility to sample an array of music is part of the allure of volunteering at the station.
“Anytime you flip on KAFM, it’s a gamble,” Ragar said. “You can listen to a wide variety of stuff. That’s also the beauty of it.”
Now a sophomore at Grand Junction High School, Ragar uses his Facebook account to connect with friends and take requests for his show.
But these days he’s into more than filling a monthly radio slot.
He likes to create videos and lately has been producing clips for YouTube of the band he’s in, Tax Cab Confessions. He also creates videos for his high school newspaper, the Orange & Black.
He enjoys being a disc jockey for school dances.
Ragar’s been helping out as a sound technician for school plays and plays the snare drum in the marching band.
“There’s always a lot of music going on,” said his mother, Claudia.
While Ragar fielded lots of questions about his age when he was on air at 12, the teenager’s voice has since transformed, sounding less these days like a boy and more like a man. Some listeners had a hard time believing he was the same programmer they were accustomed to hearing.
“Then I stopped getting the calls, ‘How old are you?’ ” Ragar said.