KHEN celebrates 15th birthday

Whether it’s a lavish celebration or just denying one’s true age, birthdays always seem to be a big deal for women. The same can be said of Salida’s grassroots community radio station, KHEN 106.9.

No longer a “spring chicken,” KHEN  and its fabulous mascot  will be celebrating the station’s 15th year of serving the area with a quinceañera bash from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 6, at Fun Street Family Arcade, 243 F St. in Salida.

As an official wrap-up to KHEN’s spring membership drive, the radio station invites everyone to come out to its family-friendly affair with entertainment for all ages. Admission is free for KHEN members, including new and renewing members. For others, admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children.

The quinceañera will include a taco bar, adult beverages, a live-streaming DJ dance party with music from the station, birthday party games and, of course, use of the arcade games.

KHEN board members are excited about the grand prize drawing that will be held during the party. All existing KHEN members and those who renew or sign up for membership will automatically be entered in the drawing to win the Ultimate Salida Stay-cation. The winner must be present to win. The prize includes a night at the Palace Hotel in downtown Salida, a $150 dinner for two at Shallots, a free massage at Integrate, two half-day whitewater rafting trips with Independent Whitewater and a foot reflexology and soak package from Anupa Wellness.

Board Chair Leslie Matthews said the celebration gives KHEN another community outreach avenue and will showcase the variety of people and talent that are a part of the KHEN station. “What I am looking forward to about this party is not only is it just to celebrate 15 years, which is actually phenomenal given that it was built from a grassroots community, but that it is a party for all ages. KHEN just really wants to be seen as a radio station for all ages. The party also brings together our founding members and our continuity as we get to a place where community radio in Salida can really be strong and sustainable.”

The radio station began when a group of locals decided that the people’s voice needed to be heard and started a pirate radio station in a tiny studio nestled in an alleyway between E and F streets.

Eventually, the “mother of KHEN,” Jane Carpenter, helped the station adhere to FCC guidelines to become an FCC low-power station, and in 2013 the city of Salida showed their support for the niche media, granting them use of the building on Third Street, from which they still broadcast. Because of the steady support of the community, the station has grown from a small affair only airing when there was a DJ available to today’s entity with computer systems and syndicated programs in place to air 24/7.

“It is important to note that our mission here at KHEN is to be a media platform committed to building community through programming, education and outreach. Everything we do here at the radio station is about keeping Salida as the great community that it is,” she said. “We are nonprofit, all our DJs and production people are volunteers, and we have no government or corporate funding. Our money comes directly from the people only. So that way we can be 100-percent committed to our community and nothing else. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of. Anybody’s welcome to come down and come in and get on the radio if you want to do a show or run your own music genre program. Our station isn’t about anything other than giving voice to our community.”