KHOI Community Radio will celebrate its sixth year of being on the air with a live band, birthday cake and T-shirt making activity today from 4 to 7 p.m. Information tables from community partners and acts from the upcoming Senior Variety Show will also be featured. The public is welcome to attend this free event.
Located in downtown Ames with a tower in Story City, KHOI 89.1 FM, is a mostly volunteer-run station that brings local voices to the airwaves, as well as alternative perspectives on the news of the day.
“Our continuing existence is a testament to the dedicated work of our volunteers, staff, and board, and the incredible support of our community that keeps the doors open and the lights on. Believe me, we don’t take that support for granted. That’s why we throw this party every year,” said station manager Ursula Ruedenberg.
“This year, we have been assisted by the Ames Convention and Visitors Bureau with funds for the party. The ACVB has been a partner in our work from the start and we’re grateful for their support,” Ruedenberg said.
The headline entertainment for this year’s party is the Heath Alan Band, from Des Moines. Band leader Heath Patschull plays tenor sax and guitar and sings, and he brings with him a group of highly skilled Des Moines musicians.
Patschull learned how to be a band leader from Bob Dorr, during his 10-year stint on saxophone with The Blue Band. That role earned him a place in the Iowa Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.
“We chose Heath’s band for our party because we wanted the broadest appeal possible,” said Ron Carson, who heads up KHOI’s Live Music Task Force and Pantorium Sessions. “Heath knows how to have fun, he does jazz and blues, and that tenor saxophone makes a sound that just gets you right in the gut.”
The live entertainment will be at the back of the station, outdoors in The History Center’s parking lot. “It will be more shaded back there, and the walls of the building will help to focus the sound,” said Carson.
The live entertainment will begin with some acts from the upcoming Ames Senior Variety Show, at 4 p.m. The band will start at 4:30.
In addition, party attendees will have the opportunity to silkscreen their own shirt with the KHOI logo.
“We could have just made a bunch of shirts with our logo on it,” said party planner Greta Anderson. “But doing it this way lets people put their own twist on it. That’s more of the KHOI way: hands-on self-expression.”
Asa Wentzel-Fisher, owner of 505 Press, will be leading the activity. He encourages attendees to bring a lighter-colored garment, as black ink on light shirts shows up much better than white ink on dark shirts.
The community radio station’s 24-hour programming consists of about two dozen locally produced shows, as well as about the same number of syndicated shows from other community radio stations around the nation. Local productions include such shows as “First-Hand Poetry,” conversations about and with poets, and “For the Love of Music,” in which different guests each week celebrate the pop and rock songs they love and the stories behind them. KHOI program schedules are available online at www.khoifm.org or at the station at 410 Douglas Ave.
“A lot of people get community radio confused with public radio,” said Ruedenberg, who, besides her role at KHOI, manages a nationwide network of more than 300 community radio stations. “Compared to us, public radio is relatively well funded. Community radio is powered mostly by the sweat and tears of volunteers, with a lot of help from individual donors. The upshot is that we have a lot more diversity.”
This year’s birthday cake will be baked by Zoe Lee, an Ames 15-year-old whose business, Sweetery Z, has a presence at the Ames Farmers Market. Lee gives part of her profit to address hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo, her country of origin.
Lemonade, ice tea and other treats will also be available.
The Ames History Center, which is giving the station the use of its back parking lot, is opening its doors this afternoon just to accommodate partygoers. It will be people’s last chance to view the exhibit on Ames High School.
KHOI will, of course, be broadcasting live during the party. Deejay Allen Gildehaus, or “Gildy,” will be playing tunes and inviting party attendees into the studio to tell stories related to a birthday or birthday celebration, or to deliver any other message they like to listeners.
“Sitting in front of a microphone is a powerful thing,” said Ruedenberg. “We want people in the community to experience that, and hopefully come back with an idea for a show. We’ll give them the training they need and then set them loose. That’s what community radio is all about.”