Alison Krauss’ Choctaw Hayride instrumental sprang to life through the monitor speakers in the studio at 7pm Mountain Time on the 1st Tuesday in March, 2003. It was the first week on the air for KRFC-FM in Fort Collins, Colorado, and my first time on the air, as a volunteer DJ.
The folks behind KRFC had worked for many years to bring community radio to the Front Range, after Colorado State University had given the college radio station back to the students. I noticed a story in the paper about this odd collective, screwed up my courage to do a demo tape (remember cassettes?) and by the grace of the music gods was selected for a 2-hour show every other week. Thus was JC’s Americana, Alternating Tuesdays on KRFC, brought to life.
I had no idea what rabbit hole I had got myself in to.
I took the Americana music I had heard on KGLT in Bozeman and on KFJY in Grand Forks (before the ’97 flood)—acoustic music like Emmylou Harris, alt.country like early & late Johnny Cash, bluegrass like Alison Krauss and Texas Blues like Robert Johnson—threw in Colorado acts like Halden Wofford & the Hi-Beams and came out with a whole lot of music fun. I got to listen through a lot of music from all over the world preparing for each show (moving to 1-hour each Wednesday night part-way through). I got to learn how to run a mixing board, record live acts & interviews (never got good at that) and try to finesse sound levels for souvenir discs. We didn’t have fancy equipment, or ProTools, but we had heart and soul.
A lot of other people played similar, but different, music on KRFC. The program grid read like many other volunteer-run, community stations, yet unlike any other. We had a roots-oriented, slightly AAA (Adult Album Alternative) morning mix, and a roots-oriented, slightly Progressive Rock afternoon mix, and a whole host of whatever you couldn’t hear on commercial radio morning, noon and night. There was also the usual lefty “news” programs, with a yeoman’s effort of local events programming. We were old and young, agitators and apolitical, acoustic and electric. We fought and played and complained about each other and stood up for each other in bringing this family to life.
I was also bringing my own family to life, that week in March. After Tuesday night’s radio show, I had a wedding to get ready for the following Saturday. My wife has stuck by me longer than I was able to stick by KRFC. Career challenges at my day job led me to move her and the kids from Colorado after three short years on the air, but I’ve never left behind my love for Americana music, or KRFC (lurking on the web stream). Now that we’re back in the neighborhood, I hope to do what I can to help out the little station that could. And enjoy being closer to some great live music from Fort Collins & the Front Range.