Making Community Radio Happen
Christina Bartlett plays music, answers the phone, stuffs envelopes and does whatever else it takes to keep KKCR on the air
Her Whisky-A-GoGo days of tie-dye and fringe head-band might be a distant memory, but Christina Bartlett still rocks to the tunes of her generation: The Doors, Otis Redding and Buffalo Springfield — all from Kaua’i’s community sponsored radio station KKCR.
“I volunteer because I love the music,” she says.
But it’s not as a DJ or programmer where Bartlett plays her most important role at KKCR, which can be found at 91.9 FM and streaming on the web at www.kkcr.org. She volunteers behind the scenes in the office and the studio.
“She is without doubt our most valuable volunteer,” says Jack Alex, KKCR program director. “Unfailingly cheerful, she is always ready and willing to do whatever needs to be done. She picks up and opens the mail, assists the music director with the new music library, answers phones, does data entry, goes shopping, packages and ships premiums after the fund drives, raises money and donations for the fund drives, puts in time at all the station events and is an ambassador for KKCR wherever she goes.”
From the craggy hills above star-studded Malibu, Bartlett left her job as a waitress/bartender in 1985 and moved with her husband and mother-in-law to Oahu.
“My husband, Kent Andrews Bartlett, is a roofer and in construction, so after the hurricane hit in ’92, we found our way over here to Kaua’i, helped rebuild and never left,” she says.
In fact, Bartlett has been back to California only when absolutely necessary, “and for no more than a week at a time. I hate leaving the island. Kaua’i is my absolute paradise.”
She started volunteering at KKCR seven years ago when station co-creator Marj Gente convinced her there were great people and “especially a great group of women starting an all-community radio station,” says Bartlett.
“I missed my girlfriends from California, so this gave me the gal pals I had been looking for.”
Since then, most of her friends have left the island, and Bartlett laughs at the fact she’s now “surrounded by men at KKCR – I like them too – but we really need to recruit some more ladies!”
Despite her charm and very talkative nature (she is no wallflower), she says she’s happy volunteering in the office and studio off-air.
“Jack offered me a co-host position on a show, but honestly, I’m just here to listen to the music, not myself talking over the airwaves!”
She says the international listening audience of KKCR is what most impresses her. “We have callers from South Africa, Indonesia and even Northern Ireland,” she says. “DJing is a lot of work … I’d rather just help them do their job by organizing the new CDs we get, or answering phones if it gets hectic.”
And while she mentions the community outreach and connectivity the station offers as a big positive, she’s mostly in it for the music.
“I came from a family of musicians, so it’s in my blood,” she says. “I just love being surrounded by it, and if it’s not my favorite style of music, I just turn it down and crank my own CDs!”
Bartlett says she’ll “volunteer forever! I love the people at the station and the people who listen. I love the music and the community.”
She gives about 10 to 12 hours a week, but “much more during our fun-drives or like when the tsunami warning came this year. I drove over here in my little golf cart and stayed all day answering phones, answering questions. I love that KKCR reaches so many people and really helps them in a time of need.”
Alex sums up Bartlett’s impact on the station:
“She truly has the Aloha Spirit and her laughter is contagious. Her rock ‘n’roll stories are legendary and I’ve yet to hear her repeat one after five years of working with her. I look forward to seeing her each and every week and couldn’t ask for more from a volunteer.”