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New & Next: Radio Free Denver

Open Media Foundation Executive Director Tony Shawcross.

Open Media Foundation Executive Director Tony Shawcross discusses Denver's upcoming low-power radio station, 104.7 FM.
On April 1, the Open Media Foundation (OMF) announced Denver's newest FM radio station, and the latest expansion to their public access operation, Denver Open Media 104.7 FM, set to go on the air June 3, 2016.

For this latest project, OMF teamed up with Denhac to launch a revolutionary radio station unlike any before, exclusively featuring local artists, bands, comics, podcast authors and more. With no national music or top 40 hits, 104.7 FM will feature local content, with listeners voting to give the most prime and repeat air-time to the top-rated content. There are no gatekeepers: Anyone who has music, news or a podcast they want to play on the air has an unprecedented opportunity to reach new audiences, while the listeners decide what music, news and radio content they like best by voting/rating at denveropenmedia.org. To celebrate the launch of 104.7, OMF is giving away free $100 memberships to the first 104.7 people who submit content for the radio station at OMF's "Open Music Session" events on May 6 and June 3 at 700 Kalamath St. (The 105th person will most likely get a 70 percent discount.)
 
The Denver Open Media 104.7 FM radio tower.Denver's music and arts scene has been booming, and some of our favorite stations in town have been playing more and more local music. When OMF had the opportunity to launch an entirely new local FM station (thanks to a groundbreaking filing opportunity from the FCC), we wanted to avoid replicating any of the great work already being done by KGNU, KUNC, Open Air and others, so we decided to dedicate the station entirely to local content.

For Denver Open Media 104.7 FM, OMF has teamed up with Denhac, Denver's best nonprofit hackerspace to create a radio station unlike any that have come before. Denhac's legion of tech masterminds are working with us to set a new standard for local radio, powered by the community via our new denveropenmedia.org website. Without any funding or financial backing from the city or elsewhere, Denhac and OMF's Web team are collaborating to envision new ways to operate DOM 104.7 FM.

The model is largely based on what we have learned over a decade of operating Denver Open Media's TV stations, widely recognized as an innovative model for sustaining and expanding Public Access TV with minimal funding. The new radio station was approached, not as an independent entity, but as a natural extension of Denver Open Media's mission to put the power of the media in the hands of the community. For the past 10 years, anyone could get a membership at Denver Open Media, take classes, access equipment and recording studios and make videos to run on three Comcast TV channels, 56, 57 and 881HD. Beginning June 3, DOM members will have one more mass-media outlet to use in 104.7 FM.

Mickey Zeppelin donated the tower.But OMF needs your help to get started. We have launched a Kickstarter campaign to get this radio station off the ground with an initial goal of $25,000. As a proven leader in launching groundbreaking, community-driven media efforts with limited resources, OMF has a string of grassroots media projects under our belt. This includes the aforementioned Denver Open Media TV stations on Comcast and CenturyLink, which became a national model for sustaining Public Access with limited funding, and ColoradoChannel.net, which provides unprecedented access to the work of Colorado's State Legislature on a fraction of the budget of other states.

With a year-one budget of $165,000 for 2016, over $100,000 of the costs are being provided in-kind by OMF, Denhac and Mickey Zeppelin, who donated the best broadcast antenna in Denver (Yellow Cab's old dispatch antenna at TAXI). The funds raised in this Kickstarter will be instrumental in helping us build the capacity to launch DOM 104.7 FM, covering the broadcast equipment, insurance and startup costs needed to get the station off the ground.

Come be a part of this new era for Denver's arts and media community. You can get involved by supporting the Kickstarter campaign, or bringing your music down to Denver Open Media's "Open Music Sessions" events on May 6 and June 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. at 700 Kalamath St. You'll get signed up with a free $100 membership and record a DJ outro for each file submitted. Join us and help us make history!

Below is the coverage map. Red will go through buildings. Pink will go through walls. Purple is suitable for auto or outdoor antenna only.



Tony Shawcross is executive director of the Open Media Foundation.
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