Holland Origin Stories: KWNK 97.7 FM

Holland Origin Stories: KWNK 97.7 FM

From time to time we get asked about certain names, phrases, stories, titles – and sometimes we gotta prove or bust some myths!

KWNK is the first listener powered, volunteer run, member supported community radio station in Reno. Reno had been without a freeform community radio station until KWNK began broadcasting on Halloween 2017. It all started with the Local Community Radio Act of 2010, a bill that cleared the way to open up the air waves for non-profits and other small organizations to start their own low power FM station. Of all the non-profits in Reno, it was Reno Bike Project and their director Noah Silverman that applied for one of these licenses. Noah had gone to school in Washington where diverse community radio stations are plenty, so the opportunity to have that in Reno was exciting. 

Noah started working with The Holland Project, who suggested roping in Wolf Pack Radio because they were the closest thing Reno had to a community station plus they had ties to Holland. WPR broadcasted entirely online and had never made the jump to FM radio. So we had our squad. The Reno Bike Project, The Holland Project, Cuddleworks, and Wolf Pack Radio would work to get the station on the air. Holland and Wolf Pack Radio would help provide the content and DJs for the station while the Cuddleworks location on 4th Street would provide a recording space for the project. After debating several different names for the station including KRBP, KBRO, and KMOM, the group settled on the name KWNK and the real work could finally begin. We began an intense fundraising effort to finance the station. 

Not only does starting a radio station require a lot of money, but also a vast technical knowledge and we had a deadline. When trying to build a radio station, you’re issued a building permit with a set date that you need to be broadcasting by. If you succeed and meet the deadline, you can finally get your license. KWNK needed help from someone with more radio experience. KJIV 89.1, known as Jive Radio, had been broadcasting in Reno for only a few years before going off the air. Jeff Cotton, director of KJIV, reached out to help KWNK on the technical side and build the antenna. When we finally started broadcasting, we didn’t have enough resources to broadcast 24 hours. So we initially shared the 97.7 frequency with KJIV, broadcasting KWNK shows from 4PM to 4AM and KJIV content during the other 12 hours of the day.

 It finally happened. We went on air on Halloween 2017 with 50 DJs, bringing Reno’s first real community radio station to the air. Reno finally had a voice for the underground. The entire project wouldn’t have succeeded if it wasn’t for the Reno Bike Project and the Holland Project. Just a couple months after our initial broadcast date, KWNK moved into our current studio space on Wells along with Laika Press. The station continued to grow through the support of members, rotating casts of DJs, and volunteers. After two years of growing, through several membership pledge drives we finally had enough monthly donor support to purchase our equipment and make it sustainable to broadcast 24 hours a day moving forward. Since we first went on air, over 300 volunteers from our community have made up what you know as KWNK. Help us continue to grow and be a staple in the Reno community by becoming a member at kwnkradio.org for as little as $5 a month!