Last Wednesday at the East Boston Farmers Market Zumix celebrated the 5th year anniversary of the launch of 94.9 FM Zumix Radio. Zumix youth, like Jacob Hicks, were on hand to do live on air interviews with community members, play music and take requests.
While Zumix Radio has celebrated its annual anniversary with a block party, COVID forced the station to revamp its annual celebration. Last year the station hosted a 24-hour Radiothon and this year broadcasted live from the Farmers Market.
Zumix’s Director of Creative Media and Technology Brittany Thomas said she couldn’t be more happy with the progress the station has made in five short years after launching on a warm fall day back in 2016 at a block party.
“I feel really proud of the team,” said Thomas. “We had so many people that stuck with it throughout COVID and still produced shows and used ZOOM to keep the station going. We’re really happy that little by little we are welcoming hosts back to the studio so they’re getting to be in the real place again and feeling the kind of spontaneity and realness of making a show.”
Thomas said while Zumix is still playing it safe with COVID and that the Zumix Radio Block Party will return in the future, last week’s Zumix Radio pop-up at the Farmers Market was a fun way to celebrate five years on air.
“We were able to connect with people who maybe haven’t met the station or the youth before,” said Thomas. “Several of our hosts were there doing story collections and short interviews. We also gathered a bunch of songs that people requested from Phil Collins to Tupac and we did a special broadcast on Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm. So that was sort of a chance to include some of those voices from the farmers market and then also some more retrospective content that was produced throughout the past year. We also got to do a short interview by phone with one of our really awesome hosts who’s at college in Connecticut and heard about what freshman year of college in Connecticut is like.”
Thomas said there were so many question marks when the station first started five years ago but it has been really exciting to watch the station grow and evolve.
“You have that feeling that you’re building something whose future has not revealed itself,” said Thomas. “In many ways it still kind of feels that way because the station is about what people bring to it so it is always evolving and that is all captured in the station and it’s really a place of connection and processing. It’s raw, because it’s volunteer produced so you can come in and not know anything about radio and then become a radio producer. It’s also raw because it’s produced by young people and I think that is so special to have that avenue through which to hear our neighborhood and its people.”
Zumix Radio is a community radio station broadcasting the voices and culture of Boston’s youth through music, stories, and bilingual conversation. After streaming online for a decade, Zumix Radio began broadcasting as a low power FM station 24 hours daily in 2016. Currently 25 youth and 20 adults produce and host weekly shows featuring a variety of programming including talk radio and music.
In 2015 Zumix was granted one of two construction permits by the Federal Communications Corporation (FCC) for a Low Power FM radio station. The station, which is shared with Winthrop Art Association, broadcasts on 94.9 FM. Its signal reaches a radius of approximately 3.5 miles from a transmission site atop East Boston High School.
In addition to its broadcast station, Zumix Radio continues to stream online at http://www.Zumix.org.
Zumix Radio is a youth and community station that serves Zumix’s mission of empowering youth to make strong positive change in their lives, their communities, and the world. Zumix radio produces and hosts weekly shows featuring a variety of music styles and topics such as teen life, local news, and labor rights.
Zumix Radio began in 2005 and initially broadcast at 1630 AM. When Zumix moved to the Firehouse at 260 Sumner Street in 2010 the radio station was only available online. With the new broadcast station Zumix Radio has been reaching a broader and more diverse group of listeners.
Zumix’s LPFM license is the result of a ten-year effort by media justice advocates to win passage of the Local Community Radio Act that mandates the FCC to issue new non-commercial FM radio licenses to community groups across the country. The Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by former President Barack Obama in January 2011. Since fall 2013 there have been 1,506 LPFM licenses granted across the country. Only two LPFM frequencies were available in Boston, and Zumix was chosen for one of the two.