High Plains Public Radio, the western Kansas radio station with towers in Garden City, eastern Colorado and Oklahoma and Texas’ panhandles, has for years surrounded its communities with its famous tagline: “In touch with the world ... at home on the High Plains.”
To listeners, the message is clear: No matter where they are, they can stay in touch with their communities and those beyond it.
Since March, HPPR, the Tumbleweed Festival and Garden City Community College have partnered to bring the radio station’s intimate Living Room Concerts to the GCCC campus, often alongside music master classes and seminars from the artists. So far, the college has hosted musicians Martin Gilmore, duo Nikki Talley and Jason Sharp and, on Monday, jazz performer Rob Scheps. Scheps’ concert will begin at 7 p.m. in the Beth Tedrow Student Center Portico following a 6 p.m. reception where guests can meet Scheps.
But the concerts are just one of several ways HPPR makes an effort to connect with its community in Garden City. The station has also partnered with GC3 Media, GCCC’s student media organization, to offer students first hand experience with radio equipment and audio editing. The program will give students the opportunity to collaborate with new friends, get audio and editing experience in a working studio, said HPPR member services manager Valarie Smith.
Throughout October, the station will also host a fundraiser in order to sustain the station, equipment operations and on-air programs like NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. The fundraiser benefits the station, but also the listeners, Smith said. With about seven full-time staff members and “many, many volunteers,” Smith said, HPPR is “solely supported by the listeners.” Donations keep it alive.
The station features a wide variety of music genres, such as classical, folk, Americana, bluegrass, country, Western, swing and more, as well as regional news. The station’s five-state coverage area is large but cohesive, said Angie Haflich, HPPR’s regional content director. The wider Midwest region, sharing similar industries and economies, “can almost be its own state,” she said.
“One of the reasons why I think public radio is so important to the community is that it provides news and information to those small towns but also connects all of these small towns together,” Haflich said. “Our members who support the station, I’ve learned a lot from them ... Our listeners are very much about learning new things and that, to me, is probably the most fun part of my job — sharing stuff that I know our listeners will appreciate.”
The connection with stakeholders goes a step further with HPPR Underwriting Representative Dan Adams, who works with businesses and organizations “to find out the message that they want to put out to the community,” Adams said.
“It’s so much more than advertising, it’s sponsoring ... We are giving recognition to their facilities,” Adams said.
HPPR’s programs hook listeners and hear responses, staff said. Dedicated listeners stay in touch and come back to support the station. The radio station from the heartland supports its community, staff said, and the community gives back.