KANW is the oldest FM station in the state and primarily features New Mexico artists. It is a public, noncommercial station owned by Albuquerque Public Schools and operated by volunteers and APS staff.
The station celebrated the opening of its new studios on Wednesday with live music from New Mexico musicians Al Hurricane and Al Hurricane Jr.
“We serve New Mexico,” said Michael Brasher, who has been the KANW general manager since 1975. “Rich and poor, rural and urban, the diverse population of the state of New Mexico, and we do it for free. With information, education, culture and entertainment programing, national and local, the best of America and the best of New Mexico.”
During the yearlong renovation period, the radio station moved into two portable trailers adjacent to the official KANW building on Coal and Buena Vista.
“We moved from the station to portable buildings, and then back, without the loss of any airtime,” Brasher said.
The renovations totaled $712,500 and included additional classroom space and equipment upgrades, as well as an expansion of the music store, which sells albums of local New Mexico musicians. Listeners and donors gave more than $61,000 to the project to pay for equipment upgrades and installation.
Because of the added space and equipment, KANW will now have a classroom with an actual broadcast studio for students to train, and for the station to use for local programming, said Brasher.
He added that the classrooms are not only for students but for any community members who may “just want to take a class.”
APS Superintendent Luis Valentino said the station is a “jewel” for the district and the state, and demonstrates a commitment to New Mexico musicians.
“One of the things we do, we take public radio stations for granted,” he said. “We always expect them to be there, but we don’t realize how much work and effort goes into keeping the programming, both local and national, going.”
KANW is funded by federal grants, donations and underwriting. APS pays for its utilities, said Kevin Otero, program director.
The station became affiliated with the Public Radio International in 1995 and a full member of the National Public Radio network in 1999. As a result, the station offers programs including “Morning Edition,” “Fresh Air” and “The Diane Rehm Show.”
KANW first opened its studios in 1951 on the third floor of the old Albuquerque High School building on Central Avenue. It operated there until 1969, when it moved to its current location on Coal Avenue. Renovations began in March 2014 and concluded in April.