KZMU Radio has hired Crystal Bunch as its new Music Director, after the departure of Josie Kovash. [courtesy photo]

“On March 16, we closed the doors of the KZMU Radio studio for safety,” says KZMU Radio Station Manager Serah Mead, “and on June 8, we went to phase one of our planned reopening schedule.”

“That’s very boring sounding, isn’t it?” Mead says with a laugh, “but I’m so excited!”

For months, KZMU Radio’s volunteer DJs have created programs from their homes after the Moab community radio station shut its doors to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Radio staff was able to engineer systems to take prerecorded shows and put them on air, so regular programming and people’s favorite shows were still heard while the area adjusted to new public health concerns.

“I’ve been so amazed by all the DJs who have learned so quickly to use new computer software and are so committed to their shows that they created them in kitchens or in closets,” says Mead.

A week into the station’s reopening plan, Mead says about half of the station’s volunteers have returned to the studio to present their shows live, while some are continuing to prerecord from home or are waiting a bit longer to come back on air.

“It’s so nice to see people back in the studio,” says Mead, noting that the station has taken many precautions including requiring masks in common areas, adding a sign-in sheet for the studio, and requiring a ten-minute gap between studio uses.

“We’re trying to take every precaution because KZMU is a fun and wild place, but that shouldn’t be a danger to anyone,” says Mead.

KZMU also announced the addition of Crystal Bunch as its new musical director. Bunch will continue the work of departing musical director Josie Kovash.

“We’ll miss having Josie on staff, but now she’s pouring all that energy into her new baby and we’re all wishing her the best,” said Mead.

Bunch relocated to Moab from the midwest in 2018 and hosts the Desert Sol Soundsystem show on KZMU.

“I grew up making mixed tapes, attending concerts of all genres and later became a concert production assistant,” she says.

Bunch worked at Shawnee Bluff Vineyard in Missouri, helping to oversee the development of a concert venue on the property.

Bunch said that she was on the board through the design process and “watched the location start as a hay field and turn into a sold-out concert venue.”

“Crystal has been a KZMU DJ for a little over a year and she has great, eclectic taste in music,” says Mead. Bunch will take on an expanded role that will oversee the station’s program schedule, volunteer organization and more.

“She brings a lot to the table in terms of life experience and music appreciation,” says Mead, “and it’s really exciting for KZMU to have someone dedicated to growing those areas and helping all our programs thrive.”

Mead noted that Bunch will help the station welcome a slew of new community DJs who will start appearing on-air in the next few weeks.

While KZMU’s normal spring in-person events and concerts are all postponed due to public health concerns, Mead is happy to hear live voices from the station’s on-air booth.

“Really, I’m just crossing my fingers like everyone that things stay safe in Moab and we continue to have low COVID-19 numbers,” she says.

KZMU reopens studio, hires new music director