The Open Media Foundation (OMF), which has operated a public-access TV station for 10 years, will start broadcasting a 24/7 radio station that exclusively spins local music and talk programs at 104.7 on June 3.
Executive Director Tony Shawcross said OMF will run its FM operation much like it does the TV station, broadcasting content submitted by paying members to free up time for paid employees for other purposes.
“Our first focus with these community initiatives is to come up with an approach that reduces a lot of the operational costs,” he said.
For example, rather than staff members managing the TV schedule manually, OMF uses a program that schedules shows automatically based on how many listeners vote for them on OMF’s website. OMF also reduces costs at the TV station by playing shows submitted by members, not employees.
Both of those strategies free up time for OMF employees to work on paid projects. The nonprofit hires itself out to make promotional videos, websites and software, primarily for other nonprofits.
Most OMF revenue – about 70 percent of the $1.2 million it made in the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2014 – comes from those two activities.
OMF also rents video and audio production equipment, teaches workshops and sells memberships. Members submit recordings to the nonprofit’s TV, radio and online channels, and get discounted courses.
In-kind donations have aided the radio station launch, Shawcross said.
Denhac, a Denver-based nonprofit that gives workshops on building computer hardware and software, helped OMF win an FCC auction for a slice of spectrum and to set up the FM signal.
And the Taxi development in RiNo let the nonprofit install a new antenna atop the radio tower on its property, once the dispatch antenna for a local cab company.
OMF’s Kickstarter campaign, which ended May 7, will pay for insurance, re-cabling the antenna and building a website where listeners can vote on their favorite audio.
But like the TV station, which doesn’t receive state or local government funds, the radio station may raise money from pledge drives, underwriting or membership fees, Shawcross said.
Shawcross said the radio station also aims to fill a gap on the airwaves: Rather than risk duplicating shows on KGNU or Colorado Public Radio, OMF is sticking to music and talk recorded in the Denver area.
“We spoke to a lot of bands and local artists that can’t get their stuff on existing stations and felt there was a big opportunity there,” Shawcross said. “Radio is still a really good place for people to get exposed to content that they’ve never heard about before.”
OMF’s radio station will begin with live programming at noon June 3. It will include DJ sets, live comedy and audio clips submitted by members at the nonprofit’s headquarters at 7th and Kalamath streets.
And to keep the member-made content coming, Shawcross said OMF is waiving the $100 annual membership fee for anyone that submits an audio clip for the air through June 3.