Spreading the Jive
You may have heard about it, may have fumbled upon it while turning your dial. But there's a low-power radio station emitting from the top of Grizzly that plays a collection of music that might even surprise the most eclectic, alternative, Americana, hipster music fan you know.
A half-hour tuned into Jive Radio 96.5-FM might start with a rare Joni Mitchell piece, then a classic from Sting, followed by an old blues piece that you can hardly believe gets airplay in Central Oregon. Maybe then it's back to basics with Willie Nelson, then a less-famous Paul McCartney song, followed by some "out-there" jazz, bluegrass or other form or mountain music.
You'll hear some interesting songs that you've never heard, some classics that you love and haven't heard on the radio in some time, and, frankly, you'll probably hear something that you don't care for. The format of Jive Radio isn't really interested in being squeezed into a box.
Jeff Cotton, the director of the nonprofit licensee Open Sky Radio, calls the programming "schizoclectic." A former sound engineer, Cotton has personally built the playlist and the Jive format.
A resident of northeast California, Cotton started KJIV-FM radio last summer, his latest of seven nonprofit stations. It emits from a transmitter on Grizzly. Unfortunately, he's been battling consistent technical issues, which has kept his promotional efforts lower key than he'd hoped. But he's hoping most of those are now ironed out.
The low-power station currently emits 1,000 watts, the maximum allowed by the federal land management on the butte. But even at the relatively low power, the station is clear and strong in Prineville and Madras, and throughout most of the region.
"The people who have found us, by either stumbling upon 96.5 while surfing the dial or word of mouth, have been really enthusiastic," said Cotton. "Most are delighted with the unexpected musical variety and the level of surprise that comes with it."
The station can have advertising, but as a nonprofit station, the FFC rules what language can be used. For instance, advertising or promoting prices or sales are prohibited.
"The gist of it is that we can tell you about the business, such as where they are and what they do, but we can't say, 'Come on down for our half-price sale,'" said Cotton. Businesses can get their names on the station, though, by paying for a sponsorship or underwriting.
Cotton said non-commercial radio station really have only three areas of potential income: grants and endowments; commercial underwriting/sponsorships; and direct listener support. Most of the revenue raised at his stations has come through listener support.
Cotton noted that most of the grant and endowments for nonprofit radio is "gobbled up by the big boys," namely stations that are in big markets and/or are affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR).
Cotton is hopeful that the station can evolve to where local bands can submit music for consideration, and potentially locally produced programming could be included.
"I hope to have a band submission portal on our website by early 2019, where local artists can submit material for airplay consideration," said Cotton.
For further information on sponsorship, or advertising, or the radio station in general, check out their website at Jiveradio.org. Questions via the Contact button go directly to Cotton.
In the meantime, check it out. You are sure to hear, well, interesting music that is impossible to put in a box.