From the window overlooking the bustling intersection of this one-stop small mountain town, a constant stream of people and cars kaleidoscope past in a blur of sound and color. Afternoon sun brightens newly painted walls, the space clean, comfortably spare, and cozy yet with plenty of wiggle room to work the imagination. Sheltered within the KBCZ’s freshly functional broadcast digs, music mingles with the muted sounds of life at full speed.
For a moment it feels like “Chris in the Morning,” the fictional DJ from the make-believe Alaska radio station KBHR
(“K-Bear”) from Northern Exposure, the TV series that aired in the early 90s. At some point that ubiquitous moose will wobble past the window.
KBCZ is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-commercial educational (NCE) live broadcast and cloud streaming radio station committed to serving the local community. Programming pulls from local expertise, boasting a team of 25 DJs producing original content that includes music, local history, art, agriculture, lifestyle, weather, emergency information, safety issues, community events, and the local economy. KBCZ is operated by the Boulder Creek Recreation and Park District, which holds the FCC license and pays music industry fees. The station is sustained financially through donations, fundraising, and local business underwriting.
Program Manager, Tina Davey, has been with the project since the beginning, about three years. Well known on the Central Coast as a professional voiceover artist, when the opportunity arose to help start a community radio station, she jumped on it. She went to the initial meetings when Tim Welch was spearheading the early effort and together with a growing team of local talent, has been instrumental in bringing the station “out of the closet” and fully fledged to the well-intentioned but underused Boulder Creek Visitor Center located in the Burl Business Center at 13200 Highway 9, Suite A, adjacent to Boulder Creek Pizza & Pub.
Initially the station shared space with the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin above Jenna Sue’s. They eventually moved to a converted closet in the BC Rec building, all the while growing the station’s music archives, building the on-air team, and gaining support throughout the community with periodic fundraisers like Flicks in the Sticks (an outdoor family movie night held at Junction Park), themed dances, and outdoor festivals.
The station went online late in 2016 with their first regular live broadcast – the KBCZ Morning Show – at Barry Tanner’s Boulder Creek Music Works in the former post office building. Then the Visitor Center became available and in January, 2017, station devotees, Leslie and Matt Buchanan began remodeling the interior from the ground up, completely transforming the space into a fully functional DJ booth and reception area. Tina Davey said of their first officially dedicated public broadcasting space, “We were in the closet for over a year. We’re just thrilled to be here…like we’re in the Taj Mahal!”
Tina says KBCZ is actively looking for community members who would like to program their own shows. Prior DJ experience is always welcome but is not a prerequisite, and training on the computer-based broadcast program is provided. “We are also looking for grant writers and members to be on an advisory board; we already have two people from KSCO who are helping.”
The goal, Tina says, is to fill all the empty DJ slots with NCE content…cars, cooking, kids sports (they’re planning to approach student talent at SLVHS), and other ideas from community members. “The radio station is going to explode this year. We need people who want to be engineers, work the software, talk, and interview. We need more people – just everybody!”
As KBCZ gears up for their April 22 fundraiser – a 60s inspired time machine dance and silent auction at BC Rec’s newly acquired Bear Creek Country Club – Tina and her team are soaking in the excitement of the new broadcast space at the Visitor Center. “We’ve wanted this space for a long time…we finally got it. Now we’re going to be visible.”