In 2007, Kevin Kennedy saw an opportunity. Slowly but surely that opportunity became an idea, then a reality.
Kennedy, a longtime volunteer with public radio in Kansas, has been working with a group of people to bring KAWR, a community radio station, to Lawrence.
“If we can offer something so unique that you can have a personal interaction with a very local event, that makes it that much cooler,” Kennedy said.
Back in 2007, when a window opened to obtain a noncommercial radio permit, Kennedy teamed up with local nonprofit Lawrence Freenet to get the ball rolling. An application was awarded in 2008, with a major stipulation: The station had to be up and running in three years.
“It costs a lot of money to create a station from nothing,” Kennedy said.
Freenet’s nonprofit classification restricted what grants the station could apply for. So KAWR worked to establish its own nonprofit status that would allow it to capitalize on potential grant dollars. The new designation also bought the station an additional 18 months.
Kennedy said KAWR also has received equipment donations from the community, as well as office and studio space at Americana Music Academy, 1419 Mass.
Lawrence resident Barry Lee, who’s been involved with Kansas City’s community radio station KKFI since the ’80s, was eager to get involved with the project but recognized the challenges in the process.
“It’s a frustrating thing. There are lots of regulations,” Lee said.
Frustrating or not, it’s happening. KAWR is working to set up a tower, which will initially reach parts of Lawrence and Topeka. Kennedy wants the signal to eventually cover the entire Lawrence community.
KAWR will hold its first official fundraising event from 4 p.m. Saturday through early Sunday at Liberty Hall. Lawrence resident Malcolm Miller, who’s been working with the station for the past six months, helped organize and coordinate the variety shows, children’s story slams and local bands that will highlight the event.
The event will be an introduction to the possibilities of the station, according to Lee.
“Here’s who we are and here’s what we want to do,” Lee said. “… It’s something they’re not going to get on any other station.”
Kennedy hopes to stream original programming online by summer and, if all goes according to plan, it’ll reach its on-air deadline of summer 2012.