Monday, December 21, 2015

Your community voice!

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 7:33 AM

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There has been a lot of debate recently about whether our local politicians, particularly our city council, effectively represent us. Not simply in terms of their qualifications, but more in their representation of the diverse make-up of Colorado Springs. When your nine-member city council comprises of all white people, seven of whom are men that I’ll generously suggest are over the age of 40, and your Mayor as well, I suppose the topic at least bears consideration.

It’s important that those with a broader voice within and on behalf of our community represent the wide-ranging interests and attitudes within our town. I think diversity, in its truest sense, is much more than ethnicity or gender. Diversity speaks to our social preferences; how we like to spend our free time, what we value within our community, and much more. And when you consider the myriad of factors of "diversity," you could make a good argument for Colorado Springs being one of the more diverse, increasingly progressive cities in America.

Consider that, according to City-Data.com, over half of our city’s population is female. And the median age in Colorado Springs is 34.5 years, one year less than the state average. In fact, over 30% of our population are under 40 years of age. And over 30% of our population represent minority groups, primarily Hispanic and African American. We also know that we have a large military contingent, including people originally from other countries, many of whom eventually settle in this great city of ours. So who represents all of those voices in the public arena?

Our local TV stations and newspapers do an excellent job of reporting on our community. Though their individual voices may not always be impartial, collectively they balance each other out. They undoubtedly represent an important source of local news and events, but also provide a crucial conduit for local voices.

So with TV and news-print well-covered, what of the traditional third-leg of the local communication stool: radio? Within the Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs area there are over a dozen regional radio stations on the FM frequency, which probably means everyone has something they like to listen to – but do those outlets provide opportunity for local voices to be heard?

Located in the heart of downtown, our newest radio station, KCMJ 93.9 FM, has the ambitious remit of being staffed entirely with community volunteers. The station will not be transmitting on an actual FM frequency until after the holidays, but has been offering some excellent on-demand programming online.

Like KRCC, which is perhaps our most prominent hometown radio station, KCMJ is locally-owned and operated, and take’s its remit very seriously. A large and expanding portion of the station's schedule is covered by local people offering locally-focused programs. The schedule includes local news, programming geared towards our young professionals, a variety of local music programs, shows highlighting our thriving local brewing community, the arts, food, photography, film, and yes, politics. KCMJ will even be accommodating a soccer-focused program starting in January (disclosure: I am a co-presenter of the upcoming soccer show).

So if you’re interested in hearing fellow Colorado Springs community members talk about a wide range of local issues and events – and even a little soccer – then check out KCMJ. Who knows? You might be inspired to add your voice to the mix.

Mark Turner is formerly of Oxford, England, but has lived in America for over 15 years, the majority of that time in Colorado. Mark enjoys playing soccer (football!), hiking and biking when the weathers good, and when the weathers rotten writing blog entries that he hopes will amuse and entertain. Mark can be followed on Twitter @melchett.

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