Jen Zaman: Volunteer of the Month

Jen Zaman

KKFI values all volunteers for their vital service to community radio, and the station occasionally recognizes people for exceptional efforts.

In March KKFI recognized Jen Zaman as the Volunteer of the Month for March 2013 for her work to create dozens of program episodes for the website, serve in our reception area helping visitors, and answer phones. Thank you, Jen, for your support of Kansas City community radio.

Here’s a little bit about Jen in her own words:

I am a former court advocate and aesthetician. Radio is my third “incarnation,” if you will. I had a radio show all through college while I attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and always considered radio to be a “pipe dream career”–something I enjoyed and was good at, but something I’d probably never get to do. My degree was in psychology, not journalism/media.

I was drawn to both KKFI and community radio because of its eclectic nature and that really, “anything goes”! Anything is possible on community radio; for me, that means getting airplay for music that people out here in Kansas City might never otherwise get exposed to. To me, community radio is a great way for us “laypeople” to have a chance at a career in radio and to learn practically while on the job. I’m having an absolutely ridiculous blast so far!

KKFI Programs on Iranian Affairs and Music End Long Run

KKFI volunteers, staff and listeners acknowledge with regret Nilufar Movahedi‘s decision to resign as host of Saba and Sayeh, Persian music and Farsi language programs that fit wonderfully into our Sunday afternoon schedule. During Nilufar’s tenure, these shows brought to KKFI’s listeners the best in Iranian music, along with news and other information aimed at educating us about the society and politics in this important region of the world. She did parts of her programs in English and parts in Farsi, but even those of us who don’t understand a word of Farsi enjoyed all of her programming – it’s been said of Nilufar truthfully that you could listen to her read the telephone book and enjoy it for hours. And the music and poetry….what a window into the soul of this part of our shared globe! We’re happy that Nilufar will remain associated with the station, and wish her all the best in whatever new endeavors she takes on. But we hope to get her back on the air at least intermittently for the joy that would give us all.
 – Mark Andruss, KKFI Programming Committee Chair


Hug A Web Browser Today: Small Improvements to the KKFI Website

KKFI is improving the website to help you connect with the station and the programs you like. Here’s what we delivered today:

  • Better mobile device support – the site should format properly on Android and iPhone devices, among others.
  • Better top navigation menu with cleaner look – we added vertical dividers between the menus and a different “hover” color.

A printable PDF version of the program schedule is now available under the ON-AIR GUIDE menu.

Look for more improvements such as ON-DEMAND podcast archives and an updated web-based Listen Live coming soon!

History of KKFI 90.1 FM – Mid-Coast Radio Founders Inspired by “Sex and Broadcasting”

by Tom Crane, host of KKFI’s “World Sound Radio,” Saturdays from 1:00-3:00 pm.

Twenty-five years ago, on February 28, 1988 at 10:00 a.m., Kansas City listeners heard something new on the radio on KKFI 90.1 FM – the cry of a newborn baby followed by the Bob Dylan song “When the Ship Comes In.” One lyric was, “They’ll pinch themselves and squeal and they’ll know that it’s for real”, which caused loud cheering of a crowd gathered to celebrate the first day, including Mayor Berkeley, in the largely empty Mainmark Building third floor on 18th and Main streets in Kansas City destined to become the first studio of the new radio station.

But the real story did not begin on that first day; it began 11 years earlier in February 1977 with a series of Communiversity courses entitled “Radio Free Kansas City.” Back then, radio in KC didn’t help local artists and had few public affairs shows. Area public stations played only classical music or promoted religion. Over 50 people were dissatisfied enough to attend the classes at various locations to change things.

The community radio movement had started in 1948 with the Pacifica stations, and in the early ’70s community stations around the nation sprung up with the counter-culture to support the idea that people could own and run their own media.

Part of that wave came to Kansas City in the late ’70s, spurred on by an irreverent and humorous manual on how to start a community station by Lorenzo Milam called Sex and Broadcasting. It looked so simple back then: just do the engineering, find a spot on the dial, raise money, get volunteers involved,buy the equipment, do the paperwork for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and finally turn on the switch!


To get the ball rolling, a non-profit corporation began, called “Mid-Coast Radio” (as a humorous slap at how radio was programmed on the East or West coasts). An office was set up in the Foolkiller Building, 501(c)3 status was achieved for tax and fundraising, a quarterly newsletter printed, and people put their dreams down on paper for the radio they wanted to create.

But simple it was not. After five years, the situation looked grim. It was discovered that there was no spot on the dial for a community station. The FCC had strict rules on how close stations could be so they wouldn’t interfere. There were a few small low-powered stations on the air, but while they were there on those frequencies, that left no room for others.

Mid-Coast Radio (MCR) meetings became less attended and the enthusiastic group dwindled down to only a few true believers in the dream. It begin to look more like pie in the sky since all over the nation it was getting harder and harder to put new radio stations on the air, although commercial ones were bought up and sold by people all the time.

But then, the future for KKFI changed dramatically! The FCC changed rules to serve the public better and decreed that small 10-watt public radio stations would either have to go up in power, or move to the commercial end of the dial. Kansas City had two of these which, if they moved, were willing to share the spot, or if they went off the air, would make room for Mid-Coast Radio’s 100,000 watt station serving a greater audience.

Then, a $20,000 planning grant was received, which let MCR hire a project coordinator to organize fundraising, complete needed engineering studies, and start the mountainous FCC paperwork required to apply for a broadcast license. At the same time, they applied for a $305,000 equipment grant which needed 1/3 matching funds raised by the group.

It seemed impossible to raise that kind of money when MCR had only been supported by benefit concerts and garage sales, but in a meeting of a newly formed board of directors, someone whimsically joked about running a bingo game. While some laughed, others checked into it and eventually a Missouri bingo license was issued.

By 1984, bingo games run weekly by crews of volunteers had allowed MCR to raise the $100,000, and equipment could be ordered. Putting a radio station on the air became a real possibility. After negotiating with the two low-power stations in Kansas City, one worked with MCR and moved to a new spot on the dial and the other decided to go off the air.

After negotiations for a tower site, completing engineering studies, solving zoning and neighbor problems, and the need to find a studio site, slowly everything started to fall into place. In 1986, a 10-year party was celebrated after the FCC granted MCR the 90.1 frequency and assigned the call letters for the station that are in place today, KKFI-FM.

An idea central to community, non-commercial radio is volunteer participation in governing, programming, production, fundraising, and outreach to the larger community. The statement of purpose that was developed included, “To support music and the arts by broadcasting a variety of music … broadcasting verbal arts including prose, poetry, theater, and comedy … public affairs programs which will address issues and needs of the communities we serve … to serve the Kansas City area by providing a forum so that diverse racial, ethnic, and minorities will be represented … and to provide social analysis and news broadcasting ….”

KKFI now broadcasts 24 hours a day with over 90 local programmers on the air with a very diverse program schedule. Hundreds of local volunteers and musicians have walked through the studio doors and the station’s listening area reaches an 80-mile radius around Kansas City. The station is supported by listeners in Kansas City, and has been since 1988.

Programming now serves the arts community; Hispanics; women, LGBT people; African Americans; Kansas City’s blues culture; jazz aficionados; pagan, psychic, and humanist groups; Native Americans; the Persian community; and organized labor. KKFI also provides progressive news and local public affairs, and airs alternative, international, hip-hop, reggae, and experimental music.

Susan Sanders Featured on LGBT “The Tenth Voice” and at UMKC

Susan Sanders

Susan Sanders

Recently, Susan Sanders, KKFI board vice-president and volunteer, talked with host Pierce Patterson, a host of The Tenth Voice show about Kansas City’s gay nightclubs in the 1980s and how they were located prior to the advent of the Internet. Guess who was listening? Stuart Hinds, Director of the LGBT Archives at the University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC). Mr. Hinds contacted Susan and wants to formally interview and record her stories about gay life and civil rights in the Midwest. These recordings will be stored in the LGBT Archives at UMKC for posterity. It’s another example of the mission of KKFI 90.1 FM, Kansas City Community Radio: to give a voice to the voiceless. Thank you, KKFI’s The Tenth Voice and UMKC!

Listener Comments on KKFI’s 25th Anniversary

KKFI 90.1 FM celebrated its 25th year on-air on February 28, 2013. Here are some supporter’s comments about the impact of KKFI on the lives of listeners.

Hawk Jones – What an amazing accomplishment, kiddos, kudos.

Davina Anne Gabriel – I remember it! I’m so glad you’re still around. You’ve greatly enriched my life.

Doug Harvey – Kansas City should be proud and grateful for KKFI!

Judith Ward – Congrats for still holding the line on educating and informing the public after many struggles. So proud to be a supporter of KKFI.

Emilie Vardaman – I loved KKFI before it was on air. I loved being a part and eventually having a program. I STILL love KKFI and listen on line. One of the hardest parts of leaving KC was leaving KKFI and the wonderful people.

Anne Mahoneyl – Oh yes,I remember it well…congrats and thank you!

Martha Blayney Gonzalez – Congratulations!!!

Angela Garrett-Carmack – We love you. What an amazing privilege for us here in the KC area!!!

Suzi Fichman – You guys rock!! and talk, and techno, and all that jazz!

Chuck Pisano – Congratulations to a wonderful radio station. Long live KKFI and thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of it for 13 years…

Gwyn Collier – Wendy Rocks!!!! [about host of Edged in Blue]

David Loftus – Keep up the good work.

Michele Harris – In honor of Sunshine’s great show last night with Guest DJ Harold DJ Red 5 !

Mark Hastert – I really enjoy the jazz & blues

Gene Goldman – Love the Blues Kitchen.

Jim Graham – Shout out to my Higginsville homeboy, Junebug! [host of Blues Kitchen]

Martha Bostick – Grew up in KC, love the station, sorry my schedule doesn’t allow me to listen more.  We now live outside Philly.  We have a great NPR station – even Junebug liked it when he lived here.  They just finished their pledge drive where they were regularly begging for $10,000 in a five minute pledge break.  I kept thinking what you guys could do with that kind of money.   Happy to do my part, sorry it can’t be more.

Debra Stokes – KKFI is the Best!!

Gregory Utz – I love KKFI, became a serious listener in the last 6 months. Never go away! In the future I’ll be donating more, but this is all I can afford. Thanks to EVERYONE for making quality local radio happen.

John Nestor – Love all the programs!

Kevin Bunch – I love this station and the variety you offer!

Laura M – We absolutely love KKFI & listen daily.. Every night there is something different and interesting & all shows are equally awesome, I listen to a wide range of your programs. I cannot stand the crap on the radio and never change the station from 90.1.. I appreciate everything this radio station does & had to make a contribution even though I can’t afford much. Thanks for all you do!

Trynnel (you can call me “T”) Ragsdale – I just happened across your station one Saturday morning on my way to recycle bottles and paper with my dog, Jesus (pronounced Hey Soos).  The Blues Kitchen was on.  Awesome!!  So I kept the car radio tuned to 90.1, and I have listened every morning on the way into the city to work, at lunch if I go out, and on the way back home.  Saturday morning recycling will never be the same for Soos and me.  A HUGE Thank You to all of you volunteers who donate your love of music and your time to make our listening experiences unmatched with others’ “run of the mill” stations.  I will be proud to advertise with your T-shirt, and ever since I stumbled upon your station that day, I have been singing your praises (albeit off key) to everyone I talk to about music.  Thanks, again.

Dawn Ratliff – Thank you for the great 60′s oldies. I dance in my car all the way to work.

Robert Cromwell – My favorite program is Democracy Now, bringing a progressive perspective to the news.

Coleen & Erik Voeks – Mark Manning and the Wednesday Midday Medley is one of the true treasures of KC…the local music community would be a much poorer place without his tireless enthusiasm.

Phillip Montgomery – I’ve been listening and donating to KKFI since  Wendy was doing the Morning Buzz every morning.  It’s fabulous that the Kansas City area has this jewel of a radio station. My hat is off to all the great volunteers that make it possible.

Bill Pryor – Keep it up–this area would really suck without KKFI.

Joe & Corliss Jacobs – Way to go….more $ to come later in the year!

Beverly Jaderborg – Keep up the great work!

Dawn Ratliff – Go Kittens. [Voodoo Kittens Road Trippin Blues show]

Ray Wheeler – I’m also a regular listener to Beale Street Caravan and I discovered Law and Disorder this morning.

Conni Nevius – You guys might consider offering some v-neck t-shirts for the ladies….at least this lady prefers the v-neck.  Thanks.  And thanks for great programming!

Anonymous – I appreciate the exposure I get to new music from KKFI. Thank you.

Kevin Peery – We love Diana Griffin Ennis the Tasty Brew!!!

Matthew Hayden – We absolutely love and support KKFI !!!

Brian Kroll – I love the High Voltage Rock n Roll Show…and they are open to playing bands from around the world, which makes Kansas City accessible to the world :) regards from Long Island, New York

Philip B – I love KKFI for (1) Rockabilly Mood Swing (big shoutout to Lynne and the Moondog!!) and (2) for your great progressive news programs and labor news. THANK YOU for broadcasting Democracy Now and the other progressive news shows, as well as local bands and the fantastic rockabilly show.

SlimJim Nel –  ”I look forward to Friday nights with KKFI.

Lisa Scott – We love us some Rockabilly Mood Swing!

Maggie Riggs – I was surprised to see how many shows I have not listened to YET!  Every donation I have made to KKFI thru the years has been emotional for me.  For those minutes I think of how much I have received from KKFI in so many ways.  I am blessed with information to make equitable choices with my life and resources, thanks to KKFI, and their welcoming ways bring the most interesting people into the studio.  You are family.

Jessica Thomas – Man, I love you guys… Keep up the good work!