KRZA-FM 88.7 independent radio (which is based out of Alamosa, Colorado) made its debut on the airwaves on an October morning in 1985. That first broadcast represented the fruit of years of work and dedication by women in the San Luis Valley who saw the need for a radio station to serve the Spanish-speaking community. Thirty-two years later, the station is a vital resource for Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.
To help keep that resource going, the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership will host the “KRZA Benefest Concert” Saturday (Sept. 23), with performances by G-Stylez; Randall Rahn; Teknicolor; The UZ Band; and Gony, Barbara and the Boyz. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. show.
The station’s mission statement expresses the ideals that have guided it since its inception: “We honor and preserve our Hispanic heritage and recognize the changing demographics that form the listenership of today. We serve our audience through quality programming that entertains, provides information, and furthers the discussion of peace, social justice, the environment and intercultural sharing.”
KRZA’s reach and breadth have expanded organically over the years. The original mix of Spanish and English programming now includes content from National Public Radio, Pacifica, Native Voice 1, Radio Bilingue and other regionally relevant programs. KRZA has also set up a broadcast station here in Taos to provide a space for volunteer DJs in Northern New Mexico.
Gerald Rodríguez, the station’s general manager, spoke about the importance of the fundraising event. “KRZA has been on the air for over 30 years and it has always been a struggle to keep the doors open, but we make it happen every year thanks to all of our supporters. The staff at KRZA consists of only three full-time employees and two part-time employees, so we all stretch ourselves out as much as possible to accomplish all of the tasks needed to run the station. Most of us do the jobs of three or four people and we try our best to make the programming run smoothly with the 15-year-old equipment we have on hand.”
Funds raised at this year’s event will be used to update the equipment and bring better-quality programming and music to KRZA’s listeners and supporters.
“Even though we are not a rich community, we all come together and help each other out, and that is why community radio is so important,” Rodríguez said. “Without community radio, we wouldn’t have a voice to speak about issues, events, fundraisers and more in our community. The ‘Benefest’ was created back in 2014 as a way to help KRZA raise funds during the time of year when the station is financially struggling between fund drives and grants. KRZA collaborated with local musicians to put on the festival. The musicians donated their talent, and Taos Mesa Brewing donated the venue space to get it going.”
Said TMB co-founder Dan Irion, “This is the third year we’ve hosted the KRZA ‘Benefest.’ One of the valuable takeaways from working with KRZA is how closely Taos is related to the San Luis Valley (geographically, culturally), despite New Mexico and Colorado being light-years away economically, geopolitically and diametrically different socioeconomically.”
Mike Clifford is KRZA’s news director. “It might not be as much fun as a pledge drive,” he quipped about the concert, “but I hope Taoseños y vecinos come out to enjoy a great evening of music and show their support for KRZA’s work connecting cultures along the upper Río Grande. We also look forward to hearing from KRZA listeners during the KRZA Community Advisory Board meeting before the ‘Benefest.’ I’ve heard rumors of free refreshments at the meeting, and it’s your chance to share ideas and opinions with KRZA management.”
The open meeting will take place at 4:30 p.m. earlier that Saturday at Las Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte, 1219 Paseo del Pueblo Norte in El Prado.
Clifford also serves as producer of KRZA shows “A Las Ocho” and “Hasta Las Ocho.” In these shows, he explained, “We take time for in-depth discussions with people involved with regional, cultural and other events, letting us all learn more about the issues related to them. Events like the ‘Benefest’ are a chance to support this kind of programming.”
The musicians giving their time and talent include Gony, Barbara and the Boyz, Santa Cruz, New Mexico’s popular family band. Gony Trujillo sings and plays lead guitar and keyboards, and wife Barbara sings vocals for the five-piece band. “We are honored and looking forward to playing this benefit for KRZA,” Trujillo said. “We play Spanish, rock and country music and have been playing music for about five years. We are also members of the New Mexico Hispano Music Association.”
Much like unassuming journalist Clark Kent turning into Superman for the greater good, Rodríguez, KRZA’s hardworking general manager, will be transforming into his own alter ego when he emcees and performs at the “Benefest.”
“G-Stylez is my rap persona,” he said. “When I’m on the mic, I’m a whole different person, with a goal to spread a message about the world and to bring consciousness to the room. I write a mix of songs for every occasion. I even have songs about musicians for musicians. I do mashups, like folk mixed with hip-hop and more. I have a great mix for the crowd at the KRZA ‘Benefest’ this year. Every year, we get a whole new set of musicians to showcase their talents and help us raise funds for the station. With the help of the community, we can make it happen again!”
Cover is $5 and all proceeds will benefit the community radio station serving the upper Río Grande region. For more information, contact KRZA at (719) 589-8844, visit KRZA.org or call the venue at (575) 758-1900.