There's been some short-notice news at Dallas' beloved volunteer-run community radio station, KNON 89.3 FM, which calls itself "The Voice of the People." The station has to move out of its 5353 Maple Ave. location by the end of September. The space, a brown office building next to the DART rail near Cedar Springs, has been home to the station since 2005.
"Our lease ended at the property that we're at," says Dave Chaos, KNON's station manager. "They're tearing down the building that we're at to build a storage facility, so everybody has to move."
Franks Real Estate, the building's owner, did not return requests for comment.
The multi-platform radio station has been an important part of the Dallas music community since 1983. It doesn't have station managers telling DJs what to play, which allows for a variety of programming unlike any other station in North Texas. They broadcast shows like The Dungeon early on Saturday mornings, one of the only places in town where you can hear thrash and black metal on the radio. There's also Knowledge Dropped, Lessons Taught V2 (one of the longest running hip-hop shows in the country) and the classic Tejano, blues and country shows that run during morning and afternoon rush hours. In 2011, KNON was chosen Best Radio Station by both Dallas Observer and D Magazine.
Now it's got to climb a tremendous financial hill. The abrupt change comes right as the station is holding its quarterly pledge drive month to maintain operations, which cost them $114,000. The station depends on these drives, benefit events and underwriting community announcements to keep it afloat. The move will cost the station an additional $30,000 on top of that. Chaos says they'll be having their pledge drive until the station has enough money to make the move.
As the DJs try to make their pledge quotes on the air, pushing concert tickets, T-shirts and coffee mugs to listeners in exchange for donations, they seem a little uneasy. Volunteer DJ Jennifer Sereno, host of Roulette Radio on early Monday mornings, says she found out about the move at last month's pledge drive meeting.
"They have not said if it will affect our show or not," says Sereno. "But [they said] we're looking at a lot of money to move. I suspect it's going to be hard to alleviate the burden. I know they're running on fumes most of the time."
Chaos says that he doesn't know where exactly the station is moving, but he's searching. "We've looked at over 100 properties and our budget's pretty tight, so we're having a tough time making a fit," he says. "We've got some areas we're hoping to look into, but nothing yet."
This isn't the first time the station has had to make a big move. 10 years ago, they had to leave their original location from the upstairs bedroom of the "notorious white house" on San Jacinto and Carroll. The last show they broadcast there was a makeshift event, with Bobo Luciano's Dirty South Hip Hop show broadcasting from a small board in Chaos' former office.
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Chaos doesn't yet know where they're going next but he says that they have to find a space — and fast. In the meantime, they'll be plugging away on the pledge drives and holding events in hopes of saving the station. But Chaos said they'll keep broadcasting, no matter what happens.
"We've done it before," says Chaos. "It's rough but we can do it."
Donations can be made by calling the station at 972-647-1893 or by clicking the Donate button at knon.org/pledge.