Feeding the Volunteer Army

KABF Radio

             Marble Falls      You know it’s going to be a good crowd when the seats start filling up fifteen minutes before the meeting.  We had not called an all-hands radio hosts’ meeting since before the pandemic, so maybe the KABF DJs were ready to see each other and catch up.  More likely, from the questions they asked, they were interested in finding out what was new and how things were going, which is also why we called the meeting and were delighted to see more than 35 of them pack into the building’s downstairs conference room.

Community radio stations, even big 100,000-watt, forty-year-old stations like KABF, depend on a volunteer army of hosts to put programs together, find underwriting, and make the magic on the air.  They all share a bond, sitting in the same chair, working the board, beating the drums on our pledge drives, and more, but as strong a community as they are, most don’t know each other except as detached voices, rather than real people.  Of course, they know the hosts that come before and after their shows.  If they come by the studio from time to time, they may know the program director, Charles Ray, the producer, Russell Carpenter, the board chair Toney Orr, or even me, as station manager, if they catch me on my monthly visits, but they don’t really know each other.  Opening the meeting with introductions, so people could say their name and more importantly in this fraternity of collective effort, the name of their shows, and the time slots when they are on the air, was something we could tell everyone was enjoying.

We had an agenda for sure, but bringing people together was part of it.  Our mission was to update on station resources, equipment, fundraising, and certainly things we wanted all of them to do including become members of the station, contribute to their shows, and organize events to support their shows every quarter.  As always, there was time to go through the “dos and don’ts” about studio rules, handling the software, and the care and feeding of the equipment.

This was also an opportunity for them to raise questions and make comments in some cases.   Keeping the website, schedule, and social media updated is always on the list, because that also supports their programs.  The software’s ability to tape the shows started easily, since our software can do this, but we were quickly in the weeds in being able to answer why everything was erased and taped over every seven days.  The new phone hybrid that allows us to have two callers on the line was also tricky.  Even making sure the CD player is actually turned off became important.

Hosts were visibly excited that their shows might be able to support other communities in Arkansas and nationally if the FCC issues construction permits on the applications that AM/FM helped scores of them file.  There was a lot of interest on how this would work, and how to make it successful.

The formal meeting lasted an hour.  The DJs want two per year, so we’ll see about making that happen.  There was pizza, lemonade, and tea.  We wanted to feed the volunteer army that makes the stations work, but what they really wanted to devour was information and good feelings, and there was plenty of all that to go around as well.