KAFM celebrates 10 years on the air

KAFM programming first flowed out of radios tuned to 88.1 FM across the Grand Valley in 1999.

Since the day the signal was broadcast, the station has moved from renting a spot by Mesa Mall to owning a building at 1310 Ute Ave. It has begun to power that building with solar energy, started broadcasting online at kafmradio.org and gathered the support of more than 100 volunteers. Those volunteers and the station’s handful of staff members have grown into a community-centric “tribe,” KAFM Operations Manager Tracy Baker said at an open house and 10th anniversary celebration at the station Saturday.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie,” she said.

“Someone said once: You come for the music, but you stay for the friends. It’s a very welcoming environment,” added Jen Taylor, the president of KAFM’s board of directors.

The nonprofit station hit airwaves a decade ago, but Peter Trosclair, one of KAFM’s founders, said the journey began in 1993, when the papers were originally filed to make KAFM a radio station. The idea of starting a community radio station came up after Colorado Public Radio stopped having local programmers.

Trosclair and a handful of volunteers bought a 200-CD disc changer in preparation for running the station with a small crew.

“We never had to use it,’ Trosclair said of the CD player. “We’ve had DJs and programmers coming in from Day 1.”

Like everyone else in the beginning, Julia Hall started as a volunteer. She later became the first paid KAFM staff member and manager of the station.

Watching KAFM grow each year has been incredible, said Hall, who no longer works at the station.

“It’s amazing how a group of people can make miracles happen,” she said.

In addition to being a radio station, KAFM offers a film series, an art gallery, Radio Room concerts and a Lifelong Learning lecture series.

Saturday’s anniversary celebration, one of many this year, offered tours of the building, green chile from La Mexicana restaurant and live music in the station parking lot provided by Flat Top Reed, Jose Valdez and Alfredo Acevedo, plus a dance performance by La Mexicana Ballet Folklorico.

The five-hour event kicked off with the unveiling of a sign in front of the station declaring the location The Arguello Building. Leroy and Patty Arguello, who operated La Mexicana restaurant at 1310 Ute Ave. until 1997, helped strike a deal to make it possible for KAFM to buy the building from the Arguellos in 2001.

Leroy Arguello said his support for the station has not wavered.

“If there’s anything we can do to continue this (station), we will,” he said.


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