UNR’s very own Wolf Pack Radio is teaming up with the Reno Bike Project and the Holland Project to start a community radio station, 97.7 KWNK. The partnership would allow student radio shows to broadcast on FM as well as provide a platform for Reno community members. The deal has been two years in the making, initiated by former WPR general manager Thomas Snider in 2015.
In 2010, President Obama signed the Local Community Radio Act, giving low-power FM (LPFM) stations the same FCC protections as major radio broadcasts. WPR has seen positive outcomes of community radio stations popping up all over the country. WPR general manager Caroline Ackerman referenced an article by the New York Times that shared the story of an LPFM station in New York City’s Chinatown.
“Community radio is unique,” Ackerman said. “Low power FM FCC licenses allow different aspects of the community to participate in radio.”
Community radio is traditionally noncommercial, and KWNK will maintain those standards. Noncommercial means KWNK will not sell advertisements for profit.
“Community and college radio is different than commercial radio,” Ackerman said. “It is freeform and engaging. WPR’s shows focus heavily on new and underground music, so the songs you hear on commercial FM radio five times a day will likely never be on KWNK.”
The Reno Bike Project is a local nonprofit organization that fixes bikes, teaches others how to fix bikes, buys and sells used bikes at affordable prices, builds bikes using recycled parts, holds bike-enthusiast event and encourages an overall cycling community.
The Holland Project is another local nonprofit that houses all-ages concerts for local and touring musicians, art galleries and workshops.
The studio for KWNK will be held in Cuddleworks, which is next door to the Reno Bike Project. Cuddleworks is a space for artists to create and/or display their work. The set-up will be pretty basic, as an LPFM station and will reach about a ten-mile radius
WPR will contribute 30 hours of content a week to KWNK. Currently, WPR only streams online and KWNK would allow them to reach a larger audience.
“It’s cool as a DJ knowing that show’s going to have a bigger reach,” said co-host of the WPR metal rock show Beneath the Pit Amy Serrano. “It’s exciting to think that someone who’s flipping through stations in the car could end up on our show and choose to listen to it. It’s nice that there’s going to be a place for WPR to mesh with the community.”
Everything that will broadcast on KWNK has to be pre-recorded. Those chosen to broadcast on will still record in the WPR studio in the Joe Crowley Student Union. Other airtime will be filled by Reno citizens.
PR’s role is to provide content. The Reno Bike Project is doing most of the fundraising. KWNK has until July before their license expires. They have to raise $10,000. At this time they have just over $500. To help raise the money, they are offering business PSAs in exchange for donations.
$10,000 may seem like a lot of money, but many believe a project like community radio is worthwhile. “Reno’s airwaves are monopolized by commercial radio, and community radio seeks to change that,” Ackerman said. “People in Reno will be able to contribute to ongoing conversations, talk about local music, and ultimately have their voice heard over FM.”