Suma leaving Carbondale’s KDNK | AspenTimes.com
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Suma leaving Carbondale’s KDNK

Katie Clary

The station manager of KDNK, the Carbondale-based community radio station, is resigning.Mary Suma, who announced her resignation yesterday, plans to stay with the station until it finds a new manager this summer. After four years with KDNK, Suma said she “loves the news side of things” and fund raising, but is worn out by the paperwork involved in being an administrator. Suma is leaving the station as plans move forward on what she considers one of her most critical projects: the new radio tower on Sunlight Peak. Last week, KDNK employees met with officials from the Pitkin County Translator Department to determine how best to relay the station’s broadcast signal through the mountainous terrain. The station reached an agreement with Pitkin County, KAJX and Colorado Public Radio three years ago on the tower issue, and secured a $250,000 grant from the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program. The tower should be built this summer, Suma said, with new signals starting in the fall. In addition, KDNK plans to switch frequencies with Colorado Public Radio, boosting its broadcast power from 220 watts to 1,200 watts. Carbondale listeners will tune into 88.1 FM instead of the current 90.5 FM. Aspen will still dial into 88.3 FM, hopefully hearing a louder KDNK if the new tower works as planned. “It’s a win-win for everybody,” Suma said, emphasizing that it helps ensure survival for the “rare and vanishing breed” of community broadcasters like KDNK and KAJX. Suma said her resignation is not a reaction to the station’s budget troubles earlier this year that forced music director Skip Naft to leave. As a nonprofit organization, KDNK needed to carefully examine the budget and trim expenses, Suma explained, particularly with the Sunlight Peak tower project at hand. But she believes the financial turbulence never reached a crisis level.”If KDNK were in a deep budget crisis, we’d certainly be out there ringing the bell,” she said, adding that the board of directors worked hard to create a suitable budget for this year. Suma is in fact known for her fund-raising abilities, even launching a tie-dyed socks and underwear incentive for one fund-raiser. She has written grants that brought the station more than $100,000 in the past three years, drawing from previously untapped sources such as the Gay and Lesbian Fund of Colorado, the Rural Listener Access Incentive and the Rural Service Enhancement Fund.A dedicated listener of National Pubic Radio, Suma brought a deep commitment to journalism and breaking news to KDNK. “My dad was a crusty old investigative reporter,” she said. “I grew up in a newsroom, my J-school was at his knee.”She said her father’s community reporting carried over to her approach at KDNK. She is particularly proud of the station’s continual coverage of the Coal Seam and the Panorama fires. Furthermore, Suma spearheaded the effort to bring award-winning journalist and author Amy Goodman’s evening news program, Democracy Now!, to the valley. The news show, broadcast from New York, airs at 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and is now one the station’s most popular programs. Suma thanked her co-workers, explaining she sometimes gets choked up thinking about the ensuing goodbye. “It’s just an honor to get to see this cast of characters paint this musical canvass,” she said. Suma, a mother of four, said her future plans are to “hug my kids” and make up for time lost in the busy spring. She will continue her weekly show, Carbondale Characters, on Fridays at noon, and said she looks forward to interviewing political personalities as the presidential election approaches. The KDNK board of directors is starting the search for a new director. Community members interested in serving on the hiring committee should contact Sloan Shoemaker, board president, at 544-0733.


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