Unknown pleasures

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

We’ve written a couple of recent pieces about KWNK, 97.7 FM, the community radio station presented by the Reno Bike Project, the university’s Wolf Pack Radio, and arts organization the Holland Project. RN&R special projects editor Jeri Chadwell wrote an in-depth piece when the station launched (See “No static at all,” Arts & Culture, Oct. 26), and I followed up a couple of weeks later with a quick Q-and-A with station manager Thomas Snider (See “Radio head,” 15 Minutes, Nov. 9).

I’m glad we’ve covered this story because the idea of community radio is great—and this station has been a labor of love for a lot of people for several years. But I’ve been genuinely surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed actually listening to it.

With all due respect to all the hard-working folks in local commercial radio, I gave up on radio years ago. I listen to NPR semi-regularly, but primarily for the news programs. I love music but always marvel at how uninterested commercial radio seems to be in presenting anything other than boilerplate genre stuff or classic artists ad nauseam: Creedence, Beatles, Eagles. Creedence, Beatles, Eagles. Rinse, repeat. Every commercial station seems to have a predictable format that takes about two hours to crack.

Of course, I could just listen to my digital music collection on shuffle or tune into an online station that already has an algorithm tailored to my taste, but it’s very exciting to turn on a station and have zero idea what I might hear. And it’s a way of discovering music that I might not find through my own musical quests. It’s the thrill of unknown pleasures back on the radio. (And not just the Joy Division album Unknown Pleasures.)

I have friends producing shows on the station, and it’s also exciting—in an on-demand world—to have to find time for appointment listening. It changes the way I listen, opens up my ears in different ways. I like that it’s all amateur DJs—just a bunch of nerds showing off music they love.