Independent Independent

KDSK plays the oldies

By Mike Marino
Cibola County Bureau

KDSK radio station owner Derek Underhill shows off some of the vintage 45 rpm discs from his archives Wednesday in front of the station in Grants. The station has a streaming internet broadcast, as well as transmitting over the FM airwaves, and plays a variety of old music that includes nearly 30,000 tracks between its digital and vinyl collections. [Photo by Jeff Jones/Independent]

KDSK-radio DJ Steve Ricketts makes himself comfortable behind one of the studio microphones as he is on the air in the morning inside the station's offices in Grants. [Photo by Jeff Jones/Independent]

GRANTS — Ever since local Grants radio station, KDSK 92.7 FM launched the Sound Souvenirs oldies format they have been holding their own and making their broadcasting mark in an industry that more and more is being taken over by large conglomerates, satellite programming and voice tracking.

At first it was the death of vinyl records, and then"video killed the radio star" as the song goes. Today it's the encroachment of XM Radio, Sirius, downloadable music and internet broadcast stations all nipping at the heels of traditional radio, especially among young people who view "radio" as an interesting relic, along with 45 rpm records of decades ago. Local radio station KDSK however, is reversing that trend and actually gaining listeners by delivering creative radio programming, thanks to the internet.

Their presence on the internet adds a diversity to the listener mix with an audience that stretches around the globe from New York City to Tokyo, and of course, here in Cibola County.

KDSK believes in local programming like The Sound Souvenirs format, developed by KDSK disc jockey, Steve Ricketts who first began broadcasting in 1958 out of his parents house in southern California. Later, a chance meeting with Derek Underhill, who is one of the stations air personalities, and station owner, manager and president of the Grants/Cibola County Chamber of Commerce, led to a radio partnership that has brought back "real" radio to the local listening public.

"We have over 6,000 songs in our library of oldies as compared to far fewer that most oldies stations program," Underhill said. "We also do something a little different from them in that we offer music from not just two decades, but include classics and some not so familiar tunes of the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies and the Eighties so we have a great cross section of music that appeals to a large and diverse audience of all ages. You can hear everything from Pat Boone to Pat Benatar."

Underhill who is a former TV engineer from Los Angeles had always been fascinated with radio and Grants seemed to have what Underhill was looking for, a growing friendly community and a station for sale. So he purchased what would become KDSK in 2000. After a few call letter changes, format swaps from the AM station to the FM station and putting together a staff of professionals who understand radio, the project it was off and running.

Underhill when speaking about the Sound Souvenirs format said, "The comment I get most often from people because of the huge size of our music library, is that they haven't heard this song or that song in years and it was great to hear it again." The station also likes to keep things local and because of the internet coverage the station gets it helps promote the city of Grants and all of Cibola County around the country and the world.

"It's a great tool for us to talk about things like the Fire and Ice Bike Rally and other events that we have in the area to an audience that may have an interest in attending so in that respect it's great exposure for the town and we hope will increase tourism and business to our great community," Underhill said.

The stations on-air personalities include Ricketts with his offbeat humor and interesting tidbits from the world of pop culture; Don Webb, a radio fixture for many years who is a walking encyclopedia with an uncanny knowledge of oldies and the artists, and in the afternoons the airwaves come alive with Barry Lee and the Memory Lane Lounge Show.

KDSK is on the radio dial at 92.7 FM or online :

June 19, 2007
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