“Our motto at the station is ‘Serve the Community First’,” said Tina Davey, station manager and co-founder of KBCZ Boulder Creek Community Radio Station, 89.3 FM.
Every day since the station’s inception in 2013, Davey and her fellow DJs enter their small booth in downtown Boulder Creek, ready to share news updates, personal insights and community-based interviews with local listeners.
Born in the UK, Davey originally moved to North Hollywood to pursue a career in rock music and eventually worked in television production in the 90’s. However, after visiting Boulder Creek with her husband, the pair resolved to move to the area. They packed up their instruments and moved here 25 years ago because “we wanted to start a small family, and we just didn’t want to do that in a huge city.. [and] this was the place we could settle down.”
With her background in music, TV and voiceovers, Davey has been an integral part of KBCZ since attending an initial meeting to discuss the creation of the station in 2012. After a year or so of struggling to get the station launched, Davey was instrumental in bringing the station to life in 2015, broadcasting from a small closet in the Boulder Creek Recreation Center.
Since then, the station has only grown. In 2017, KBCZ relocated to a larger storefront in downtown Boulder Creek, expanding to host 26 DJs who create 100 percent original content, broadcasting live across the region. While the 2020 CZU fire ravaged the San Lorenzo Valley, the KBCZ DJs continued to broadcast fire updates and became a critical source of information and connection for evacuated residents.
Davey says residents “scan for us right away when something occurs… [they] tune into us a lot and they feel comforted that we’re there because we’re just neighbors.”
Throughout these regional challenges, the station has upheld its community commitment, first fostered during the station’s founding in the kid-filled Rec-Center ten years ago.
In addition to providing relevant updates to listeners, Davey and her fellow DJs always endeavor to spotlight community voices of all ages. Davey particularly loves bringing kids’ voices onto the air, saying that they “give the radio station a real hometown, unique quality to it…. people say ‘I heard my kid on the radio station. It’s a really big thrill’.. and it [just] builds that connection to the community.”
Each summer, KBCZ runs an internship program, giving kids ages 12 to 16 the opportunity to produce a weekly half-hour show and gain broadcasting experience. Davey treasures watching these talented teens develop as DJs.
“The favorite part of my job is when a new person comes in and they’ve never been on the radio before… but they have excitement for it… and then I get to see them really blossom,” she said. “It’s like watching a butterfly come out of its cocoon.”
Davey hopes that these opportunities will empower interested kids to “get into journalism, TV or radio because when I was a kid, I didn’t know this kind of thing was even possible.”
KBCZ is also in the process of developing a youth radio class, offering an introduction into radio for kids 8-12.
“It’s a great way for people to learn about radio and podcasting because you learn mic technique, how to read copy appropriately, [and] how to use your voice appropriately,” she said.
In Davey’s experience, hands-on practice like this allows individuals to enhance their communication, professional, and interpersonal skills while learning about this potential job field.
Davey encourages anyone interested in radio to “start with community radio” stations like KBCZ that provide novel opportunities to community members and maintain a degree of creative autonomy that is disappearing in the increasingly restrictive world of commercial radio.
While “some people say radio is on its way out,” Davey believes that community radio “really does have a place in every society, and I’m really glad it’s up here in the mountains” where it has the power to facilitate community connections and empower local voices.
Despite working hard to serve the community, Davey still finds time to continue with her first love of music by singing in a local band, Swordfight, who you can often see perform locally. They recently released their first album, “Dangerous to be Alive,” which can be found on all streaming services.
If you dream of exploring the world of radio and broadcasting, you can find more information about KBCZ’s internships at kbcz.org.
By Elise Cline