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License to play, ticket to ride

Durango’s latest radio station took some time getting on air

It’s been 16 years in the making, but local rockers finally have another way to listen to their classic favorites: KXRC-FM 105.3, Durango’s newest rock ’n’ roll radio station.

Kerwin Gober, one of the part owners and founder of the station, originally submitted an application for a radio channel to the Federal Communications Commission in 1997, but the station just got approved in October 2012, according to FCC documents.

Gober attributes the long wait to the FCC re-examining its process on allocating radio frequencies in the early-to-mid-2000s.

“(Approval) stagnated for about 10 years,” said Gober, a partner with Basin Broadcasting Company Inc. in Farmington. “There just aren’t that many frequencies available.”

The station, dubbed XRock, had its inaugural broadcast May 31 at the popular climbing spot.

Since then, it has launched its morning radio show “The Morning Disaster” with Jamie Osborn from 6 to 10 a.m. The show features the typical combination of music, entertainment news, contests and request from listeners. But Osborn hopes to put a local twist on it.

“If something is going on in the community, we’re going to be there,” he said.

He hopes to have the community’s movers and shakers such as Mayor Dick White and Business Improvement District Executive Director Tim Walsworth in the studio once a week to answer questions about local issues and events.

The focus on the local community is what general manager Gwen Williams thinks will set the station apart from the other 20 registered FM channels in Durango, along with having an “untapped” market.

“There was a definitely a hole in the market for rock (music). There are a lot of rockers in this town,” she said. “We’ll be talking about local things that are pertinent to the Durango market.”

Williams waited to open a studio until a space on Main Avenue became available to make them “accessible to the public.”

The station is still in its beginning phases, and employees are trying to find a good mix of minutes dedicated to advertising and music. Right now it is running five or six minutes of advertising in an hour, Gober said.

“As we become better known and gain an audience there will be more advertisers that want to reach that audience,” he said. “I expect there will more (advertising minutes) in the future.”

The studio – at 1137 Main Avenue in the building that formerly housed Snow Monsters – was built from scratch and the building had to be remodeled. Gober said he is still getting bills for the remodel and doesn’t know the total cost, but said it cost more than $250,000.

The station has a limited crew of three people, including Osborn and Williams, but they anticipate more employees will be hired on as the station gains popularity.

Durango has changed since Gober first submitted an application for the radio channel, including the way people consume radio.

The majority of people still listen to AM and FM radio, but almost 40 percent of Americans are also listening on digital devices, according to a 2012 State of the News Media report.

XRock does not currently stream its broadcast online, though it would like to in the future, Gober said.

Despite the changes in the industry, Gober says the long delay in getting approval has turned out to be a good thing.

“Durango is growing. (The future) probably looks better right now than it did even then,” he said.

jdahl@durangoherald.com

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