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New Mexico “ghost town reborn” gets Low Power FM station

The "Madroids" of Madrid raise an antenna for KMRD-LP.

The “Madroids” of Madrid, NM raise an antenna for KMRD-LP [photo: Prometheus Radio Project]

The Prometheus Radio Project has a blog post about its efforts on behalf of a fledgling Low Power FM radio station serving the hallowed town of Madrid, New Mexico. The LPFM station in question is KMRD, 96.9-LP, aka “Madrid Community Radio.” I am intrigued by the KMRD website description of Madrid’s environs, situated on the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway in Santa Fe County, around 25 miles below Santa Fe proper. The 2010 Census estimated the population at 204 souls, plus some “off-grid” homesteaders in the nearby village of Cerrillos.

Furthermore:

Madrid is home to three-dozens shops and galleries along Route 14, a ballpark, a community garden, live music venues, restaurants, and a local history museum.

Over the past century, Madrid has been a burgeoning coal-mining town, the largest ghost town in the state, a counter-culture hotbed, an artists’ haven, and a flourishing family town.

The Legends of America website describes Madrid as a “Ghost Town Reborn.” Apparently the coal mining city collapsed in the 1950s as natural gas became popular. According to the article, in 1954 an advertisement placed in the Wall Street Journal offered to sell the whole place for $250,000, to no avail. But starting in the 1970s people started migrating back the area, and now it has its reputation as a small but fun metropolitan region full of “Madroids,” as they call themselves: artists, hippies, ghosts, plus a healthy share of normal human beings.

Back to the radio station, however. Prometheus eloquently describes the building and launching of KMRD’s transmitter tower:

“The construction was truly a community effort as craftspeople, artisans, and volunteers from town all contributed their time and expertise to the project. A blacksmith fabricated a steel cage, hinging base, and 26-foot steel mast to support the antenna. A carpenter and general contractor coordinated the pouring of a concrete base for the mast and designed and built a shed to house the transmission equipment and solar system components. An electrician and solar expert designed and installed a solar system to power the transmission equipment. Other carpenters designed and built the beautiful on-air studio featuring wrap-around desk space and a beveled double-pane window. A electronics expert is assembling a broadcast console kit from Kaatskit that contains hundreds, if not thousands, of discrete components.”

Meanwhile locals took turns digging, carrying, or pounding equipment into the ground as needed. If you are looking for a web stream, KMRD’s online Listen page says “coming soon.”


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