From Neil Best's Desk
It was almost 20 years ago (February 8, 2001) that I, along with the rest of KUNC’s staff at the time, learned that the University of Northern Colorado Board of Trustees was planning on selling the license of KUNC to Colorado Public Radio the following day. To say the news came as a shock is an understatement.
The morning after the pending sale was made public, nearly thirty members of the KUNC listening community appeared before the trustees. They asked the board to reconsider then UNC President Hank Brown’s recommendation to sell the license. After hearing emotional stories from several listeners explaining how important KUNC was to them, the board announced it would put out an RFP for the sale of the license with a deadline of Wednesday, February 28.
As I left the meeting, I had serious doubts about our chances--the challenge was daunting. But then a young woman came up to me and said, "Here, I am a single mother, a UNC student, and please don't cash this check until the end of the month, but you're important to me." She gave us a check for $250. And that's when our capital campaign got underway.
The next morning, the Friends of KUNC was formed. Led by Nancy D’Albergaria and Pat Thomas, a group of listeners gathered and a massive community effort came together very quickly. Over the next 20 days, more than $2 million in cash was raised. (As Nancy later observed, we couldn’t get March with 31 days or April with 30 days, or even a leap year—we had just 20 days). Literally hundreds upon hundreds of listeners made gifts ranging from five dollars out of piggy banks to the first ever million-dollar gift to public radio.
On March 1, the Friends of KUNC leadership team called mid-afternoon to tell me, along with the rest of the staff, that the decision had been made. KUNC would be sold to the Friends of KUNC group and would become an independent community licensed station.
Since then, much as changed. We adopted the philosophical name Community Radio for Northern Colorado and quickly began to expand the vision of what KUNC should be. We have grown from a staff of fewer than ten dedicated individuals to a staff of more than 40 equally dedicated individuals. We have moved our studio/office location twice. KUNC has evolved into a full-time news and information service and we have added the music discovery service, The Colorado Sound.
Through the last 20 years there have been two constants: the community support that we receive through listening, membership, and the sharing of your thoughts and concerns directly to us. And the dedication of the staff of KUNC and The Colorado Sound who are focused daily on the mission of informing, inspiring and entertaining the community.
In closing, I want to say happy 20th anniversary Community Radio for Northern Colorado. On a personal note, each and every listener, member, and staff member continue to inspire me to this day. Thank you.