Locally-produced soap opera serial priority for new non-profit FM station

Thursday, September 15, 2022
Jerrell Kautz with transmitter equipment for KEZL, a new nonprofit community radio station he is helping establish.
Courtesy photo

CULBERTSON, Neb. — A Houston businessman who cut his broadcasting teeth by starting a McCook radio station decades ago has started a nonprofit radio station with an easy listening format and promises of a lot of locally-produced programming.

Jerrell Kautz, a Hammond organ dealer for Texas and an engineer for a large television station, began working at KBRL at age 16 and founded rock station KZMC not long after.

Kautz describes KEZL — “Keep EZ Listening” — as Southwest Nebraska’s first full-service non-profit, non-commercial radio station, broadcasting music by artists all the way from Frank Sinatra and the Ray Conniff Singers to the Boston Pops, the Carpenters and Michael Bublé, along with national programs like “A Way With Words, “Says You” and “Clear Out West — COW Radio.”

“One of the first priorities will be to locally produce a daily radio serial ‘As The Windmill Turns’ soap opera broadcast written and produced by local residents,” he said, with airtime for local poetry, story readings, vignettes featuring local artists, school drama or music groups.

“Just raise your hand and say count me in! It is hoped to ultimately produce a huge amount of local programming featuring area talents,” Kautz said.

The station broadcasts at 89.7 FM, programming is streamed at KEZLFM.COM, and ideas for programs can be submitted there.

He said KEZL intends to be a full-service station, with news and weather as well as local programming.

The station is operated by a 501(c)(3) corporation headed by Katz’s son, Joshua, with two other Houston residents who will be replaced by local board members as the station is better established. A programming advisory board is being formed to make recommendations to help “assure that the programming addressed the public interest, convenience and necessity on an ongoing basis.”

As a non-profit, all donations, grants, underwriting and contributions is invested back into the station.

The station will rely on volunteers for tasks like organizing the music library, writing or participating in the serial soap opera and many other radio station tasks.

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