Intersection

With NV89, Vegas’ NPR radio affiliate goes indie—by way of Reno

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When NV89 hit the airwaves on April 12, Nevada received a gift other places have long taken for granted—a listener-supported, commercial-free, 24-hour, independent music station. Managed by Vegas-based Nevada Public Radio and produced by veteran program director Willobee Carlan, NV89 has much to recommend it: On-air talent that includes KROQ alumna Gia DeSantis and Neon Reverb Radio’s Jake Wagner; syndicated music show World Cafe; and a playlist that includes such of-the-moment artists as Cloud Nothings, The New Pornographers and Bon Iver. Plus, songs by Nevada artists are played every hour.

There’s just one catch: NV89 isn’t on Las Vegas’ broadcast dial. NV89 broadcasts in Reno (as KVNV), on a frequency recently abandoned by another nonprofit station, 89.1 KJIV. The only ways Vegas listeners can tune into this Vegas-produced station are with an HD-equipped radio (it’s at KNPR HD3) or by streaming it live at nv89.org. (A dedicated streaming app, and compatibility with apps like TuneIn, is forthcoming.) And according to Nevada Public Radio president Flo Rogers, that’s not going to change.

“It’s a statewide music discovery channel,” Rogers says, dismissing the broadcast/streaming disparity by noting that visitors to the KNPR website stream some 200,000 hours of content monthly, and that most new cars are equipped with digital receivers. In other words, if you have a cell phone and a stereo jack, odds are good that you can listen to NV89 right now. “I have an Audi with a six-CD changer,” Rogers says. “I’m all about the streaming.”

The other small problem with NV89 is a programming flaw: Every fifth song is off-format. Hearing new Angel Olsen and Black Lips songs bumping against overexposed hits by Sublime and Coldplay is a genuine head-scratcher. But to be fair, KVNV has only been on the air for a week. If this works, the station and its listeners will have plenty of time to figure each other out.

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