Celebrating Authentic Airwaves

By on August 1, 2018

KHOL and JacksonHoleLive team up to commemorate a decade of community radio

D.J. Williams of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe headlines KHOL’s 10th anniversary celebration.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Ten years ago, Zach Zimmerman was relatively new to the valley. He moved to Jackson to do the classic “ski bum thing” but he brought with him what would prove a valuable skill.

Zimmerman learned to radio deejay as a high school student in California and stuck with it when he went to college, deejaying for stations in Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara.

Naturally, when he heard about a brand-new radio station in Jackson called KHOL, he had to investigate.

He headed to the basement of the Teton Barber Shop, where the fledgling station lived at the time. Walker White, then-station manager, welcomed him immediately. After all, they welcomed everyone interested—and they needed volunteers.

Today, as KHOL celebrates its 10th anniversary, Zimmerman finds himself at the helm as station manager and KHOL’s offices have moved to the Center for the Arts.

But not much else has changed, Zimmerman said.

The station still tries to be inclusive and representative of the community. They want to introduce more people to the community radio experience and they are still always looking for volunteers.

The station marks its birthday with an outdoor concert on Sunday co-produced with JacksonHoleLive. The party features Shots Fired, a band led by D.J. Williams of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. Shots Fired brings together an all-star list of musicians including those that play with Dave Matthews Band, Lenny Kravitz, Greyboy Allstars and more, Zimmerman said. Every show brings a new line-up of performers, so every performance is fresh and brand new.

It is Shots Fired’s first time in Wyoming, but some of the musicians have been through Jackson before with other bands and will be familiar faces on stage, Zimmerman said.

The five-piece multilingual band Salt Petal will also play the outdoor concert soiree. The Los Angeles based group uses electric guitars, bass and drums, as well as an accordion, synthesizer and hand percussion to create a unique tropical surf sound, according to JacksonHoleLive.

The result is that the band holds “audiences captive in a new dance state of mind,” JacksonHoleLive’s website explained.

Proceeds from the party go to KHOL which remains 100 percent listener supported with no state or federal funding, Zimmerman said.

Since KHOL started 10 years ago, the station has nearly tripled its number of volunteers. About 50 people in Jackson give time each week to the station. Those volunteers introduce the community to new music, but also new voices within the valley.

“It’s the center core tenet for us to have as many walks of life represented on the station as possible,” Zimmerman said. “You might not know a voice exists in the community until you hear it on KHOL and then you learn about a pocket of the valley that makes this place special.”

KHOL’s lineup includes about 40 shows that cover everything from sports and food to opera and heavy metal music. It also offers regular community affairs reporting that includes interviews with political candidates, for example, but also conversations with artists about new exhibitions in the valley. It’s an important supplement to other media in Jackson, Zimmerman said.

“It’s more of a live conversation and you can capture more emotion when you hear it straight from the subject,” he said. “The people you are talking to are going to bring things to the airwaves that you can’t capture in print. The sense of intimacy and immediacy is unique to radio.”

To hear that intimacy and immediacy, listeners no longer need to be near Broadway Avenue. About five years ago KHOL started live streaming, allowing people around the world to tune-in and connect with Jackson. Each week a few thousand people stream KHOL.

Zimmerman hopes that continues. He’d also like to expand broadcasting to other parts of the state or more of Teton Valley.

But the biggest wish Zimmerman has is for more volunteers. He would love to double the number of volunteers so that the station could eventually have 24 hours of programming. Volunteers don’t need experience. The station trains new DJs. And it’s a way to get involved in the community, Zimmerman said.

“We’re an important part of the overall community conversation,” he said. “We try to represent what the community looks like and what it sounds like and the diversity we have in the valley.”


KHOL 10th anniversary celebration with JacksonHoleLive, 6 p.m. Sunday at Snow King. Admission is a $5 donation to KHOL and an additional $5 for adults. (Kids 17 and younger are free.)

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