Filmmaker Kevin McKinney tries again to kickstart 'Corporate FM' film, tracing changes in radio, fall of KLZR

Kansas City filmmaker Kevin McKinney's documentary "Corporate FM" won over moviegoers who caught the film at the Lawrence Arts Center in May. The film explores the corporate takeover of local radio stations that began with the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and led to the homogenization of local radio.

McKinney, a KU grad, uses the example of KLZR, the erstwhile Lazer (now KISS FM), as a poster child for all that's wrong with Big Radio. Interviews with former owner Hank Booth (who expresses remorse for selling that station), former DJs and folks embedded in the bustling Lawrence music scene of the 1990s create a somber scene.

McKinney argues that the lack of diverse, locally owned radio stations leads to cracks in the community (for instance, a syndicated radio show out of Miami can't tell you about a fundraising drive for a cancer-stricken child or that traffic on I-70 is backed up.). The film takes the stance that the plight of local radio represents everything that's wrong with the corporate influence on government and society. Basically, it's all about money.

So McKinney is taking another shot at a Kickstarter campaign to get the film in more independent theaters and college campuses (college kids listen to radio, right?). In June, McKinney tried to raise $20,000 for distribution costs, but that proved impossible. Now he's back with a smaller goal of $7,200.

With four days to go, he's almost there. So far, 75 backers have pledged more than $5,000.

Kickstarter, if you're not aware, allows artists and others seeking funding for projects to raise money through pledged donations. Those donations are put in escrow until the fundraising goal is met. If it is not met, the pledged donations are nullified.


patkindle 9 years, 11 months ago

sorry,but it takes money to do anything just like this project, you can only hold your hand out so long. local radio needs advertizers, and local busiensses dont put out much for advertising, let alone radio if the old lazer had plenty of listeners and advertisers, i doubt if much would have changed, so that should tell you something, sure alot of whiners carp about the old lazer but their just wasnt enough of them to start with

radiokmac 9 years, 11 months ago

The Lazer was doing fine when it was paying attention to local music. The greed of the new owner shifted the focus away from serving Lawrence to that of milking advertising dollars out of Topeka. The way they did this was by producing a product that they thought would appeal to Topeka. Top 40. Of course, the market was already saturated with top 40 so it failed over and over again.

To patkindle's point that local businesses don't put out much money. This is just the kind of attitude that shifted the focus of the Lazer from serving those local advertisers to those of bigger markets and national advertisers. The irony here is that by helping today's small local business; they become tomorrows big advertisers. When radio serves it's local community first, it benefits the community and radio in many ways. Those dollars stay in the community and grow.

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