In celebration of our 15-year anniversary, we’re going back to the early days of KHOL talking with some of the station’s founding volunteers and staff members. KHOL’s first music director Brad Desmond, helped launched the station in 2008 and joined me over the phone recently to talk about the birth of community radio here in Jackson.
The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. This conversation was recorded on March 9.
KHOL/CATLIN: How did you get involved in KHOL?
BRAD DESMOND: I moved to Jackson in 2004 after college, and I was working as a chairlift operator at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. After a couple of years, I wanted to do a little more in the community and get a little bit more involved than just snowboarding and living for my own personal pleasure. I had been a college radio DJ at the University of Vermont, and this [Jackson] is like a college town without a college.
I started looking into how to make [a radio station]. And in the process of doing that, I found out that there was already a crew together who had been working tirelessly for years to get it [KHOL] off the ground. So I reached out to Jim Tallichet. I came in at the right time because they were in the process of securing the license. I got involved in 2007 just kind of helping in any way I could. It was really Jim and Walker White and a few other guys who were doing the bulk of the heavy lifting on actually getting a license. And then before we knew it, it was go time. No one really knew what to do or how to do it. I probably had the most experience of actually being on air, having done college radio for two to three years.
When we launched the station we didn’t have enough DJs. The idea of a volunteer DJ station was foreign. I was going around at the bars and going up to people on the chairlift and being like, ‘Hey, man, would you like to do a radio show? Like, we’re just trying to fill that schedule. We’ll teach you what to do. That’s how “The Heavy Metal Massacre” started. A lot of those early shows were like that. Some of them are still going.
KHOL: How did your experience here shape what you are doing now?
I knew when I was music director I wanted to get involved in a bigger way in the music business. [After working at KHOL] I did two years at NYU, got my master’s in music business, and then I connected with an artist manager in Boulder, Colorado, named Ben Brooke, who was building an artist management company around his big client, which was Big Gigantic at the time. And I thought, you know, I love New York City. I love Jackson Hole. Boulder seemed like a pretty great way to cross the line between those two places and be able to get outdoors, do outdoorsy stuff, but still have a connection to a big city like Denver and an airport.
One of the things I always envisioned is the idea of being an educational institution. I see the mission as a 501c3 is to entertain, but also to educate. There are a few ways I see that happening. So turning people on to different tastes and different genres that they’re not getting through other radio stations. But another is pulling people in from the community and [learning] how a radio station works, from the technicality of the board to the headphones, the microphone. Anyone can get that experience.
Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Brad Desmond.