KOOP FM isn’t just a radio station. It’s your radio station – one for the people, by the people. And the people of Austin love it.
The station (pronounced “Co-op” FM) Director of Operations Kim McCarson and Leah Manners, Development Director, spearhead a station that boasts 71 unique radio shows and has been on the air since December 17, 1994. That’s more than 20 years if you’re into math.
Radio for the People, Not Profit
They don’t do it alone. The local station is run by 111 volunteers who are organized and lead by part time employee and Volunteer Coordinator, Molly Chesney. Every aspect of KOOP FM is created and maintained by its volunteer staff. The 71 shows are determined by committee and those committees are elected.
71 shows a week isn’t a normal radio schedule. The average station features something like 10-15 shows a week, depending on the station’s format. KOOP FM’s schedule is more like a TV station. And unlike commercial radio, KOOP FM’s programming is hyperlocal (much like our very own Austinot). All programming is geared towards our fair city of Austin.
On any given day, you can tune in to hear punk music one minute and tejano the next, followed by a show breaking down the goings on at City Hall. There is literally something for everyone on the station.
Volunteer to Learn
If you’re wondering how McCarson and the KOOP FM team can find enough on-air personalities to fill their slots, it’s simple. They train them.
On average, KOOP FM trains 60 people a year. The time investment on the part of the volunteer is small. For example, a 30 minute radio show requires two hours of volunteer time each month. Compare this to the cost of a formal radio training program.
KOOP FM shares the 91.7 FM frequency with KTVX, UT’s radio station. KOOP FM has the air by day and KTVX takes over at night. The station is fully FCC compliant and boasts two studios, one of which has room for a 10 piece band to set up and play, and has the ability to play music on any format except 8 track. The station also has a smaller production room where they’ve recorded close to 2,000 public service announcements for local groups in Austin.
You Can Help
Despite the volunteerism and creative energy, KOOP FM still needs to keep the lights on and that takes good old fashioned money. Like KUT, KOOP FM has an annual drive to raise funds. This year, their membership drive kicks off Friday, February 27th. You can make a one time donation or contribute monthly on their website. Kim McCarson emphasizes the importance of community donations: “95% of our funding comes from community donations. The rest comes from underwriting and grants.”
KOOP FM’s commitment to being purely community driven, produced and maintained excites me. As a life long fan of radio, I’ve always wanted to be on air, speaking to thousands of people and sharing my thoughts and music. It’s great to know KOOP FM offers people like me the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the radio world, not to mention the education and entertainment they provide listeners on the other end.
Learn more at KOOP.org.
@ElDavidThomas wants to know:
What is your favorite public radio station in Austin?
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