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Week 151 - Thin Air Community Radio

For the 151st week of "7 QUESTION SUNDAY" we shine the spotlight on another influential individual from the PNW. Michael Moon Bear is the current station manager of Thin Air Community Radio.

4EVRGRN: Hey, MMB! Tell us a little about yourselves.

MMB: Michael Moon Bear has been with Thin Air Community Radio since 2004, when he began producing a popular weekly music program, Around The World with Michael Moon Bear, which aired for 13 years on the station. He has worked in several positions at KYRS, including Underwriting Coordinator and Program Director. He currently works as the Station Manager. With over two decades of community radio experience, Michael has been very active in station development, training programmers and staff in every aspect of station operations.

What makes being an independent station unique?

MMB: Thin Air Community Radio is a community station, and that means that everything we produce, live on the air or in our production studio, it is all produced by local volunteers. And there is a distinction between community radio and commercial radio. Thin Air Community Radio is funded entirely by donations. We’re not beholden to anybody else. We don’t have a corporate owner / sponsor that’s telling us what we should air. We’re not a satellite station of anything. We are very unique, right here and now, we are Spokane community radio. Volunteer created and community funded.

How has the community embraced KYRS?

MMB: KYRS, or Thin Air Community Radio, began in a room the size of a walk-in closet in downtown Spokane’s Community Building. At the time of the first broadcast on Oct. 26, 2003, we were an LPFM, confined to a low-power FM frequency, so it was only audible a few miles away. 18 years later, the station has grown in size and range, occupying much of the Community Building’s third floor and a full-power frequency that stretches near to the Canadian border. This has all been through community support. Spokane loves Thin Air Community Radio!

How can people get involved in volunteering?

MMB: That’s part of the mission of the station, to make the role of radio host accessible by letting anyone with a passion and a program idea that is unique and aligned with our mission of serving underserved communities get on the air and share it with Spokane. Of course, there’s an application process, but, after that, the station’s staff will coach the new programmer through the production process. Within a short period, they’re radio pros.

As with any nonprofit we always have operational needs to fill as well, office staff, social media and outreach management, helping produce events, there are many ways to help. You can find out more about proposing a program, volunteering, etc. at our website KYRS.org.

Why is it so important to the station to give news and views overlooked by mainstream media?

MMB: We serve Eastern Washington with unique programming for un-served and underserved populations. Heard on 92.3 & 88.1 FM and streaming 24/7 at KYRS.org, we provide a mix of news, views, culture and music that is overlooked by other media. We elevate marginalized voices to give them a place at the table of public discourse. Local music, local people, local issues, that is Thin Air Community Radio.

Favorite place to listen to music in the PNW?

MMB: Wow, so many great options … The Big Dipper is a favorite.

What advice do you have for those looking to get into radio?

MMB: Head over to our website and fill out an online program proposal. That gets the ball rolling!

Tell us a little about Thin Air?

MMB: The name Thin Air Community Radio was created in 1999 when local community activists learned the Federal Communications Commission would soon open up the “public” airwaves to Low Power FM community stations. These activists were determined to work together, pool their resources, fundraise, and create a community radio station virtually out of thin air. And thus the name.  Thin Air Community Radio was born of that hard work and dedication, and we bear this name proudly.