MARIPOSA — Broadcasting from a downtown basement, KRYZ 98.5 FM Mariposa Community Radio has achieved remarkable success in a pretty short period of time, thanks to a growing number of dedicated volunteers and the support of local businesses and nonprofits who have embraced the fledgling outlet from the start.
What began with an on-air countdown to midnight on Dec. 31, 2015 has since become a mainstay of the community — providing a unique blend of eclectic music, topical interviews, and vital regional news. Now, they’re getting ready to celebrate all that with a big ol’ party.
The over-21 crowd is invited to a Halloween Dance Party fundraiser at Bootjack Stompers Hall on Saturday, Oct. 27 from 6:30 – 10:30 p.m., with live music by Little Tiger and the Roger Perry Band, food, drinks, a silent auction, costume contest, and live entertainment featuring professional belly dancer Andalee Owens. It’s shaping up to be a quite a night.
With its first official broadcast on New Year’s Eve nearly three years ago, at this point the station is a go-to for music, entertainment, and programming that includes everything from science and history to high school sports and hot-button political debates.
We recently caught up with Ron and Cindy Iudice, both members of the station’s board of directors and friendly faces who spend countless hours volunteering their services in a number of different ways — and loving it. Like the Iudices, a handful of individuals take on much of the day-to-day work behind the scenes at KRYZ. The dance party is an opportunity to meet everyone face-to-face or, since it’s a costume party, face-to-mask.
“We have great music on our station, we play everything from the 1930s to now, including folk, jazz, blues, world, pop, ethnic music — you name it,” Ron says. “Everybody picks out their favorites from their own collection and that results in a real compilation of everybody involved.”
Cindy agrees with Ron’s assessment that KRYZ’s generous blocks of music are a foundation of their purpose — and that’s not all.
“The station is about more than music, it has interview programs with different subjects, holistic health, master gardeners — it really is community radio, so we have programs in the public interest, as well as the beautiful music.”
Besides having thousands of listeners on-air and streaming online, Ron says they’re perhaps most proud of ongoing collaborations with the community and other nonprofits.
“Underwriters have been eager to offer support, and we’ve had several grants from the Mariposa Community Foundation that have helped us to buy the equipment that we need so far. Most recently, we had success with the congressional debate between McClintock and Morse — we were the only transmission of that debate.”
The station touts different nonprofit organizations throughout its broadcast day, and people are recognizing the call letters and their work more frequently, especially as they promote community events. The station complies with all FCC requirements, and is an all-volunteer operation. There are six people on the board of directors right now, with a potential for more, and about the same amount of people who produce shows independently. Any money that comes in from the public goes directly to the station.
While technology enables KRYZ to broadcast and stream to its many listeners, it’s not without drawbacks.
“Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the whole thing is dealing with the software that we have to use,” Ron explains. “We’re looking to upgrade all of our operating equipment, and our fundraising goal this year is to get our own servers so we don’t have to depend on software that goes from here to Europe and back — a lot of things can happen when that’s how it is. With our own servers, we will be able to control everything.”
Speaking of technology, the folks at KRYZ want to give a special shout-out to staff engineers who climb the antennas and towers when there are issues.
“They are the people who see how we can expand our radio waves out even farther. We’re looking for a really good, new antenna site now, so we can get more coverage — we need to be up on a hill.”
Tickets to the dance party fundraiser at Stompers Hall are $20 per person. The Mariposa Chamber of Commerce will provide a no-host beer and wine bar.
“We have an award-winning professional belly dancer performing who will set our event apart from any others happening that night,” says Shana Bender, who broadcasts a music show on KRYZ as Shanti, and is producing the event.
Most importantly, she says, the dance party is an opportunity for connection and engagement.
“Community members can put faces to the names involved with the station and find out how to get involved themselves. We’re excited for the event and the opportunity to engage on a deeper level with our community!”
SNO’s own Kellie Flanagan hosts Across the Bridge on KRYZ.