Thursday, July 7, 2022

Community Radio is Adapting, Not Dying

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As an all-volunteer, nonprofit community radio station celebrates 20 years of broadcasting, it’s clear the power of radio is still strong.

In April of 2001, the FCC finalized its low power FM radio service licensing policy (source) and a new era of community radio was born. Now, two decades later, it’s more clear than ever that the future of community radio lies in enriching the lives of the listeners, DJs, and musicians. To continue growing, community radio stations like Mana’o Radio are adapting through the use of technology and social media.

Community Radio Stations connect with listeners at live event hosted by Mana’o Radio in Maui, Hawaii. Photo by Bruce Forrester.

“We were the 13th applicant in the nation to file our application,” remarked Kathy Collins, Co-founder of Mana’o Radio, a community radio station in Maui, Hawaii. 

“We got a couple of investors and found some used equipment,” explains Collins, “We went on air on March 11, 2002 at 6am from my teenage son’s bedroom. A team of 5 volunteers helped us put an antenna up on the roof.”

Kathy Collins and Barry Shannon were inspired to create an alternative to corporate radio and to bring music to their community. Mana’o means thought, opinion, knowledge –and their vision was to share Mana’o not just through music but through all forms of audio.

“People always talk about radio dying but it hasn’t,” shared Collins. “I believe there will always be a place for something that is community-based.”

While relying solely on donations and volunteers to operate, the station is breaking barriers and tradition in order to stay relevant. This year marks their 20th anniversary.

On June 11, 2014, Mana’o Radio was granted a new FCC High power license under Maui Media Initiative KMNO 91.7FM which vastly expanded their reach.

Current Mana’o Radio Board President Michael Elam noted, “Our mission has stayed the same, but how we achieve it has changed. We’ve grown beyond just an FM broadcast to now include all sorts of digital tools and live music production.”

At Mana’o Radio, no one receives compensation including DJs, engineering, operations management, board members and community partners. Every person is involved for the love of sharing eclectic music with FM listeners on Maui and growing an internet audience worldwide.

“We are an island with limited FM signal. Our broadcast range is maxed out. All major population centers in Maui have access,” explained Elam. “Our growth is going to come from reaching people worldwide.”

When COVID hit and Maui shut down, the station turned to social media to keep the music flowing. These livestreams have stuck around as new ways of enriching the lives of the community, musicians and DJs.

One such program is Mana’[email protected]. Maui radio personality and community journalist, Trish da Dish hosts an hour-long talk story, interview, and live music experience featuring a respected Maui artist/band. Over 50 episodes later, Mana’[email protected] continues to provide a platform for musicians to share their music. The program is available on Facebook and YouTube.

The latest in the lineup of offerings is Music2Nite, a website where residents and tourists can easily search for live music events throughout the island by genre. Musicians and venues can post live music events at no charge. The station promotes the event on air and through their social media partnerships with a combined reach of nearly 1,000,000 people.

“It has always been part of the mission to support local musicians,” commented David Rose, volunteer Web Developer with Mana’o Radio. “This site is another tool to help us do that.”

As Mana’o Radio celebrates its 20th Anniversary, it’s clear community radio is not dead. The future of community radio lies in enriching lives. With music-loving volunteers at the heart of the station, they will keep the music flowing through the FM broadcast, live music productions, live streaming, and adapting to a new world of digital tools.

IVOX NEWS :: SOURCE Mana’o Radio

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