Editor’s note: Bailey Helton is the station manager at KJACK Radio.
As a child, my summers consisted of days playing pool at the Boys and Girls Club and extended weekends at my aunt’s house sitting poolside as my younger sister and I listened to the radio while dancing like absolute lunatics. I vividly remember hearing the same song every 40ish minutes. At the time, that was a dream come true because it was when Justin Bieber, One Direction and, of course, Beyoncé were the essence of the Top 40.
Here in Flagstaff, residents can listen to a little bit of everything via local radio stations. First and foremost, Flag is home to KNAU. An NPR member station, KNAU is located on NAU’s south campus and is a mixture of talk and news radio. There is also a station called KAFF Country for people who want to enjoy their favorite country hits as well as live sporting broadcasts. For those looking to listen to what’s trending while getting their daily dose of entertainment news, there’s the Q102.9.
These days the Top 40 is not my cup of tea. I would rather sit in silence or plug in my phone than hear the same song twice in a single day. However, since moving to Flagstaff I have found KJACK Radio to be my primary station.
When the station began in 1999, it was housed in a broom closet and broadcasted to 1680AM. Over the years KJACK has made progress in its location and in its power. In 2014, KJACK relocated to an on-air booth in NAU’s Media Innovation Center.
NAU’s student-run radio station does quite a bit with and for the community. For example, the sports department puts out a calendar each semester that includes a list of high school and NAU sporting events they will be covering via a live broadcast. This list includes Flagstaff, NPA and Coconino High School football, soccer, basketball and volleyball as well as NAU club hockey and baseball.
KJACK has also teamed up with businesses to advertise services as well as assist with grand openings.
On the music front, the library that makes KJACK is a compilation of student suggestions, artist submissions and what’s popular in the world. The programming at KJACK is made up of three main music categories: alternative, pop and R&B/hip-hop. The station also does a few specialty music hours where country, jazz, classical, rock, Latin and EDM music is thrown in. KJACK has also implemented live in-studio band interviews and acoustic sets. Every guest to KJACK’s studio is Arizona-based.
The college station is also known for its live concerts that are thrown each calendar year—most notably, Battle of the Bands. Competitors for this battle are selected through an audition process. At the last two competitions there were competitors from Flagstaff high schools, Phoenix and bands that call the 928 home. These live concerts typically have an entrance fee of less that $10 and are open to the public.
But how exactly does KJACK extend itself outside of the university? Well for starters, there is no other station in northern Arizona that plays hip-hop or R&B. But even more than that, because the station gets to work with members of KAFF Country and KNAU, there’s almost an unspoken partnership between these three stations. Students want to learn about sporting events from community celebrities like Dave Zorn and dive into the thick of news with KNAU. So often we associate community with actual people and blocks around a neighborhood, or we acknowledge the art and running communities, but very rarely do we look at media as a community. Although each form of media—print, radio and television—is competing against one another for the viewer and listenership, we are a part of something much greater. We have an opportunity to learn from one another. That’s what NAU and, specifically, members of the media at NAU are doing. Students involved in KJACK are learning from the industry while also absorbing the feedback of the community and that fact in itself is what makes KJACK more than a college radio station.
KJACK Radio can be heard from 107.1FM if you’re in the Flagstaff area, or you can stream it on www.kjackradio.com.