by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & L & lt;/span & et's begin with a basic assertion: The best, most consistently dope music filling Spokane's airways comes from KYRS Community Radio. People who disagree with this fall into one of two camps: the ignorant and the idiotic. If history has taught us anything, it's that nothing lasting can be done about the idiots. They're like cockroaches. They'll be around forever.
The ignorant, however, are another matter. They can be taught.
A new, loose-knit, grass-roots campaign by several KYRS DJs seems determined to do just that. "The station's really kind of on a charge to get our name out there," says John Blakesley, who hosts Common Threads, a show that airs every Saturday at 9 am with music that runs the gamut from acoustic singer/songwriter fare to reggae and world. Blakesley is one of a handful of DJs who have begun taking the work they do for the station out of the studio and into the clubs. After cutting his teeth booking shows at Huckleberry's 9th Ave. Bistro, Blakesley put holds on one Tuesday a month at Empyrean for what he envisions as a revolving KYRS showcase. The first such show, happening Feb. 19, features out-of-town folkie Ben Fondren (see page 42) and locals Dane Ueland and Josh Hedlund. The next gig, an Inlander Cheap Beer Night on March 21, features Portland's Future Relics, according to Jason Cross, who hosts Local Chords (Tuesdays, 10 pm) with Andy Seymour.
Independent of Blakesley's efforts at Empyrean, Kristal Collins, who hosts Art and Living with Lisa Page, will curate a local metal show featuring Dead Reckoning, A Pyrrhic Victory and Hail the Gunfire at the coffee house this Saturday.
John Gardner (aka DJ Yehochanon), host of Call on Yahweh and headpiece of the Real Life Sound Reggae clique, has been repping KYRS at every show he spins since he began playing out. Jeff Echert, host of Distant Stations (Tuesdays, 10 am) and Inlander contributor, has taken to occasionally setting up the KYRS booth at shows.
Blakesley says the push into the community is due to restored vigor at the station. "I feel like it's been a while since the station's programming schedule is as good as it now," he says, "Since I've been there I've seen this amazing groundswell of proactive DJs."
Cross also credits the success of Pat Dundas' Battlestar Eclectica anniversary show at the Blvd in November. The lack of a KYRS banner at the event may have deadened its promotional impact a bit, but it was certainly a hell of a party, more than 200 people hearing KYRS repeatedly given dap throughout the night. At least 150 of those in attendance seemed to be hearing of the station for the first time. "Plus," Cross says, "Pat just drilled that on MySpace for a month and a half."
Dundas, for his part, is in the beginning stages of a plan with Cross to host remote broadcasts at Prago Argentine Caf & eacute;. "I think of it as a way to bring live shows to people who are in their homes. Like living room concerts or something," he says, testing out a name, "It's all very tentative at this point." Cross and Dundas have also spearheaded KYRS' involvement in WigBash '08, the Blvd show that in late March brings Hockey back to Spokane for the first time since it left in September.
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he first show at KYRS to host live events, Spotucky Radio (Thursday, 10 pm), has been bringing alt-country and Americana gigs since last May, with Portland's Hillstop playing Prago last month. Host Pat Maguire says they have a full slate of gigs lined up for this year as well.
The idea for the Spotucky crew, says Maguire, is two-fold. "The biggest thing is that this has to snowball for other bands to come off the I-5 corridor and play Spokane," he says. If a band or two can come here, be successful and have fun, he says, they'll spread the word and they'll have a contact in the DJs who can not just act as a booking contact but aid in promotion as well. "Hey you wanna play Spokane?" he says, mimicking the intended results. "Talk to those Spotucky boys, they'll make it happen."
"A radio station needs to be an entity in the community," Maguire says, "not just a spot on the dial."
Blakesley echoes that sentiment, saying he wanted to get involved with KYRS because of the way thriving independent radio stations in other towns he's been to fuel their communities. "To me it's something that Spokane's lacked for so long and now finally Thin Air has become like this force," he says. "Every city I've gone to that's had a great alternative station, that station seems to be the driving force behind these great, non-corporate scenes."
Whether that effort succeeds or fails, as with everything KYRS does, rests heavily on the shoulders of its DJs.
A KYRS Gig Primer
Dead Reckoning, A Pyrrhic Victory, Hail the Gunfire
Empyrean - Feb. 16 - 7 pm
Josh Hedlund, Dane Ueland, Ben Fondren
Empyrean - Feb. 19 - 7 pm
Inlander Cheap Beer Night featuring Future Relics, guests
Empyrean - March 21 - 7 pm
Wig Bash '08 Early featuring Cyrus Fell Down, Birdmonster, Shim, Das Llamas
The Blvd - March 29 - 5 pm - $6
Wig Bash '08 Late featuring Hockey, Shim, Birdmonster, Das Llamas