Bloomfield Fire Department starts community radio station

Hannah Grover
The Daily Times

BLOOMFIELD — Bloomfield Fire Department Chief George Duncan first had the idea to start a radio station a decade ago. But, as he put it, "the window came, and it closed."

So when the chance came around this year to secure a license, Duncan didn't pass it up again.

In June, the fire department received a license to operate a radio station that plays music and safety announcements. The station is located in an upstairs room of the fire department.

"What we're doing is we're attempting to get messages — public safety and fire safety — out to the community 24 hours a day," Duncan said.

The radio station is fully-automated, meaning a person does not need to be on-site to operate it, a move that cuts down the cost. Equipment cost $23,500 and was largely covered by money the department received as compensation for fighting wildfires outside San Juan County. Duncan said the station's license cost about $800, and the department pays a minimal monthly operational expense that's roughly the cost of running a 100-watt lightbulb.

The station can be heard at KFDP LP 93.5 FM, but only broadcasts over a short distance.

"As soon as you top the hill into Aztec, it gets a little bit fuzzy," said John Mohler, the assistant chief.

The station plays a variety of music, ranging from country to rock. Last week, the fire department started Elvis lunch hours.

Dispersed between songs are short, 20- to 30-second public service announcements. They include fire safety tips, community events and city announcements.

"We don't have commercials, but we have safety messages," Mohler said.

The radio station has also started interviewing people on the air. The first interview was with Mayor Scott Eckstein, and the fire department expects to air the conversation this week.

In addition to providing entertainment, the station can also broadcast emergency alerts, such as weather advisories.

"We can go live and warn the public about it right now just by pressing a button," Duncan said.

But the station's main focus is getting information to the community, such as how the fire department is changing to meet Bloomfield's needs. For example, Duncan said, the department is preparing recorded segments to inform listeners about arroyo safety and dehydration.

Ultimately, Duncan said, the station offers a way to reach adults and to remind people about safety.

"If we play good music, hopefully people will keep coming back," Duncan said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.