The Sopris Sun

KDNK selects news director to manage station

By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

Gavin Dahl, who has been news director for about nine months at KDNK-FM, Carbondale’s community access radio station, was promoted to the post of general manager by the station’s board of directors this week.
In an phone call Tuesday night, Dahl confirmed that he had been hired to replace former station manager Steve Skinner, who was dismissed in December of last year.
Dahl formally takes the reins of the station on Feb. 1, according to Andi Korber, chair of the station’s board.
When contacted on Wednesday, Dahl, 35, prefaced his remarks by stressing that he was grateful for the work done by Skinner over the decade that he ran the station, and to the community for starting and maintaining the station’s vitality over its 38 years of existence.
His training in radio, Dahl said, began at two college stations, at the University of Texas in Austin and then at Evergreen State College, a liberal arts institution in Olympia, Washington, the schools he attended while ferrying between locations where his divorced parents had settled.
That was where he got his training in the radio-news business, from stories about musical acts coming to campus to interviews and other productions about issues and personalities of the day.
He also worked at a station in Boise, Idaho (KRBX) after graduating from college, where he got his first taste of management as program coordinator and music director as well as being in charge of station operations as KRBX prepared to move from an Internet platform to the FM band in 2008.
Moving to Colorado in 2009 (“for love,” he explained) he worked as a film projectionist in Greeley, and wrote copy for the RawStory.com website, which had “millions of readers,” giving his first taste of mass-market news work.
He also spent a couple of years in California, including a stint at the Digital Arts Service Corps, an adjunct of Americorps, an agency that provides personnel for national and community service projects. While there, he said, he learned “about how the Federal Communications Commission actually works,” knowledge he hopes will help him now as he prepares to deal with an incoming presidential administration that might be hostile to community radio, net neutrality, and other issues that will affect KDNK.
Returning to Colorado in 2012, he worked with veteran countercultural broadcaster David Barsamian’s program, Alternative Radio, for two years, then went to work for the Open Media Foundation, which works with nonprofit organizations, government agencies and individuals “in putting the power of the media in the hands of the people” by providing assistance with such matters as archiving government meeting recordings and making them available to the public.
While at the foundation, he worked with officials from the Town of Basalt and Pitkin County, which gave him his first introduction to the Roaring Fork Valley and convinced him to move here when a job came open as news director at KDNK in 2016.
His biggest concern, he said, is the possibility that the new administration of U.S. Pres. Donald Trump will strip funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supplies about a quarter of the station’s annual budget. He is hopeful that his earlier work with the Rocky Mountain Community Radio Network organization will help KDNK fight back against any such efforts by federal authorities.
“If threats come our way, we’ll be unified,” he said, noting that the RMCRN encompasses most of the region’s community radio outlets. “KDNK is not alone.”
Other plans include his desire to improve the station’s community outreach by highlighting its best volunteers, holding community events at the studio on 2nd Street, and pursuing partnerships with local nonprofits, businesses and other media outlets to keep the town both entertained and informed.
Key to the station’s future, he said, is its ongoing relationship with the Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program (AZYEP), which is a separate nonprofit linked with the station that teaches area youth about community radio and gives them a voice on the air.
“As station manager, I’m committed to doing everything I can to maintain the great relationship we have,” with AZYEP, Dahl said.
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