‘Amplify KXCI’ turns up the volume

By JAMIE VERWYS

Tucson community radio station KXCI has been a pillar of the local music scene for 30 years.

Since its debut broadcast in December 1983, the station has connected the community with countless musicians, non-profit organizations and events.

For 25 of those years, KXCI has called the downtown Armory Park neighborhood its headquarters. The building where staff and volunteers hang their headphones is a large home built sometime between 1904 and 1906.

The historic quirks of the space complement KXCI’s eclectic identity, but the time has come to upgrade. And with its current fundraising campaign, the station’s longtime dreams of improvement are well on their way.

Amplify KXCI launched with the intent to raise $750,000. The initiative focuses on four major tasks: signal expansion, building rehabilitation, technology upgrades and an endowment plan.

The primary goal was to expand the station’s limited coverage throughout the city with a new auxiliary transmitter.

“We are over halfway there at $382,000,” KXCI General Manager Randy Peterson said. “The first goal of the campaign was to get an antenna to increase our reception. We will be placing those orders in February for delivery and installation in early summer.”

KXCI currently broadcasts its signal from Mount Bigelow, reaching only downtown and central Tucson. The new transmitter will significantly improve signal for current listeners and expand it to the Catalina Foothills and Northwest Tucson.

The station also plans to expand its recording studio, Studio 2A. The studio has been a part of KXCI for 12 years and has hosted hundreds of live performances by local and national talent.

“We never finished making it look better or really had professional-grade acoustics,” Peterson said. “We’re also being held back by not having as many trained folks as we would like.”

With the funds allotted to building improvements, the station hopes to make 2A a relevant space for quality audio and video recordings.

KXCI staff want to purchase two stationary video cameras, improve acoustics and modernize current equipment.

The projected funds would also allow staff to train volunteers in recording and engineering skills to help accommodate more performances.

Since it is a nonprofit organization, KXCI places high value on volunteer services.

“As a volunteer, it’s fun to work on a project that you really believe in,” KXCI Community Engagement Director Amanda Shauger said. “It’s fun to be a part of things.”

Shauger began volunteering as a substitute disc jockey in August 1998 before becoming a full-time staff member in April 2010.

“It’s fun to be able to reach out to people from all parts of the community to find how their unique talents and gifts will help out the station,” she said.

Currently, the station has about 75-80 on-air volunteers.

The studio teaches a free DJ/Programmer training class for potential volunteers about three times a year. Demand for the course is high, so most applicants will be put on a waiting list.

Upon completing the four-week course, students have many options to aid the station. Volunteers participate in events and membership drives, and have the potential to DJ on-air.

The newest outlets for unpaid DJs are podcasts and “mini programs” available online.

The highest need for volunteers is in the music department. The studio receives about 100 CDs each week along with digital downloads. Volunteer help is necessary to review, label and file each album that arrives.

Contributions to the Amplify Campaign can be made at kxci.org/amplify-kxci.

For more information on KXCI, visit kxci.org. For volunteer inquiries, email Amanda Shauger at Amanda@kxci.org.

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