KUNM is launching new interactive features on its website which allow listeners to chat live with on-air DJs and program hosts. Also available is an easy to use Program Archive, the creation of Radio Free America, an Albuquerque based company. Currently in beta, Radio Free America is the online platform for non-commercial radio stations.
Founded by Kenneth Pushkin, a lifelong community radio lover and UNM alum, Radio Free America is designed to optimize the radio experience for users and maximize opportunities for community radio stations across the country.
The concept's history dates back over three decades. In 1981, Pushkin launched Radio Free America with its radio show called, ‘New Music – the Alternative 10’, a 30-minute program produced at KUNM. It quickly syndicated, and within six months was on 600 college affiliates. Pushkin said, “The show became a cult success because of its cutting edge programming.” Pushkin’s commitment to innovative, thought-provoking radio continues 30 years later, as he re-launches the brand with today’s innovative technology and commitment to a sustainable product that will endure.
The innovative features are intended to enhance the visitor experience to KUNM.org, creating opportunities for direct audience engagement and thereby increasing the KUNM listenership. Radio Free America celebrates independent station DJs and program hosts by engaging listeners live and in real-time during shows, in addition to providing various community-building tools and resources. Listeners will have a broader choice of independent radio stations and DJs - both live and archived, available free of charge online - creating an environment of discovery and entertainment.
KUNM General Manager Richard Towne, said, “KUNM is honored to be the first station on the Radio Free America platform. There is a ton of potential to expand the audience for great music and innovative programming not found on commercial radio. I've been a long-time believer in what Radio Free America can do.” Pushkin added, “Because today’s radio is dominated by the big guys, there is very little discovery, local talent and free form featured on the air. I believe independent radio is inherently American – one of the last bastions of free speech. The Radio Free America platform will help independent stations realize their full potential.
Regarding the value of personal musical curation and the celebration of college DJs in an era of of pre-programmed algorithms, KUNM DJ and former station manager David House said, “There is so much media available out there right now…but still to have somebody to help you pick and choose makes a big difference…the human factor of Radio Free America is huge.”
Tristan Clum, KUNM program director agrees, “I’m excited about Radio Free America because it solves some problems that stations like mine have. Archiving, analytics and the audience engagement opportunities, which are all free of charge, help us stay competitive both on-air and online.”
“With the new Radio Free America platform, we are providing a tool that will help independent, community and college radio stations compete with the larger mainstream resources,” Pushkin said. “By providing these tools free of charge, more stations and DJs will be able to reach more listeners, bringing greater exposure to bands and other talented contributors, and we feel this is something that will resonate with the listening audience."
“Radio Free America is designed so that everyone wins,” he said. “The stations win by getting free services, greater exposure and revenue sharing as we move into selling advertising. The DJs and program hosts win with the unique custom profile page, archived programming available to their fans, real time interaction, analytics and the opportunity to discover new talent for their shows. Content creators win by uploading their original content in front of the national audience of DJs and program hosts – today’s tastemakers. And the listeners win by having an array of great public radio and a constant stream of new discoverable content available to them 24/7.”